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China 1949: A Year of Choices

Henrietta Harrison, University of Oxford

Thu, 3/21 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 202 Jones Hall

East Asian Studies Program

The Chinese communist revolution in 1949 was the result of a successful military campaign, but it also brought in a state shaped by its political ideology. That state had been being built for more than two decades, already ruled a large part of north China, and did not come to rule other areas until well into the 1950s. Nevertheless, the founding of the People’s Republic of China was an important moment that would shape its future. How did the communist takeover in 1949 change people’s lives? What choices did they make that year? And what does that tell us about the new state (including, but not only, how it came to power)? More specifically: What did people think the revolution was in 1949? What were their hopes and fears? What did those outside areas already controlled by the Communist Party actually know about it? What decisions did they make as result? How did people’s daily lives change when the new state took over? This paper will use the diaries of Chang Renxia, from Anhui who returned from India to support the revolution, and Zhu Xining, who left Nanjing for Taiwan to fight against the revolution, as a focus for beginning to think about these questions. It is the start of a new project and I am very keen to receive comments and suggestions which will help shape the future book.

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