Ah, Mao! Assessing China's Querulous Recent History

Historians challenged by conflicting assertions about life in the People's Republic of China

Release Date: November 11, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Historical assessment of the Mao Zedong years has been a highly contentious matter in China, calling into question assumptions about Cold War politics, socialist mass culture, gender roles and historical inquiry.

Weili Ye, Ph.D., a noted specialist in the social, cultural and intellectual history of 20th-century China, will tackle these issues in a lecture on Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. in 532 Park Hall on the University at Buffalo North (Amherst) Campus.

Her talk, "Walking a Fine Line: Telling Our Life Stories in the Mao Years," will be presented by the UB Asian Studies Program, and co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Gender Institute. It is free and open to the public.

Ye is a professor of women's studies and history in the University of Massachusetts Boston College of Liberal Arts.

She is the author of two books. The first, "Growing Up in the People's Republic: Conversations between Two Daughters of China's Revolution" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), addresses the role of women in the Chinese revolution. In it, she and Ma Xiaodong recount their lives in China from the 1950s to the 1980s, a particularly eventful period that included the catastrophic Cultural Revolution. They also reflect upon the mixed legacy of the early decades of the People's Republic of China.

"Seeking Modernity in China's Name: Chinese Students in the United States, 1900-1927" (Stanford 2002), Ye's second book, is about Chinese students who came to the U.S. in the early 20th century to study at American universities and returned home to play pivotal roles in Chinese intellectual, economic and diplomatic life. The students exemplified key aspects of Chinese modernity and introduced new social customs, new kinds of interpersonal relationships, new ways of associating in groups and a new way of life in general.

Ye is currently working on a study of the generational cohort that joined the Chinese Communist Party at the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War.

The UB Asian Studies Program regularly presents films, symposia, lectures and performances on topics related to cultural, economic, political, social and linguistic aspects of life in Asia. For information, go to http://www.asianstudies.buffalo.edu/events/index.shtml.

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