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Research Seminars



Fabio Lanza
University of Arizona Taking "China" Seriously: Global Maoism and Asian Studies in the Long Sixties


19 Jan 2017

4:30 p.m.
4.36 Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus



It was in the global context of the nineteen-sixties - and possibly for the first time in the century - that China became an inspiration for radical youths, workers and scholars all over the world. But what did "China" mean in places so distant and different as Berkeley and Paris? This presentation focuses on the history of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, an association of young students of Asia in the US, radically critical of US foreign policies but also of the structure of their own field of study. Through this analysis, and through a brief comparison with the phenomenon of French Maoism, I show how this "China," far from being the location of adolescent revolutionary dream, could be an essential element in reframing political and intellectual positions in the US and France. But I also suggest that, by examining how the Maoist experiments of the Cultural Revolution were reinterpreted in the West, we can try to clarify the meanings of a period of Chinese history that remains quite obscure. This paper is thus an invitation to rethink the global sixties through China, but also to analyze Maoism in the light of its global appropriation.


Fabio Lanza (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2004) is associate professor of modern Chinese history in the Departments of History and East Asian Studies of the University of Arizona. His main research interests are political movements and urban history of twentieth-century China. He is the author of Behind the Gate: Inventing Students in Beijing (Columbia University Press, 2010) and co-editor (with Jadwiga Pieper-Mooney) of  De-Centering Cold War History: Local and Global Change (Routledge, 2013). His second single-authored manuscript, The End of Concern: Maoist China, Activism, and Asian Studies, is in production for Duke University Press. He is currently working on a research project on Beijing urban space under Maoism.


All are welcome. No registration is required.