The Road to the Chinese Communist Revolution: How Petty Intellectuals Gathered and Accepted Leftist Ideologies in 1920s and 1930s Shanghai

Feb 22 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

Tang Xiaobing (Associate Professor, History Department, East China Normal University; Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute)
Chair/discussant: Elizabeth Perry (Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University; Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

In 1927, Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei, who inherited the power of leading the Chinese national revolution from Sun Yat-sen, began to openly purge Communists and left-wing members of the Chinese Nationalist Party. China’s Communist movement was at a low point due to this situation. However, left-wing culture was prosperous in Shanghai at the time. The left-wing culture, in its development for nearly a decade in Shanghai, fostered a great number of youths who later arrived in the Communist-controlled areas located in the northern part of Shaanxi Province. They participated in the Chinese Communist Revolution, which finally achieved victory in 1949. To explain this historical transition, this talk will present how the CCP influenced cultural spaces such as bookstores, schools and cafes to accomplish its goals of mass mobilization for the party and how petty intellectuals played a prominent role in interpreting, creating and spreading left-wing culture. As a result, in urban areas of Shanghai in the late 1920s and early 1930s, petty intellectuals were absorbed into the Communist camp and fostered with essential revolutionary skills, and finally became an important group to support the China Communist Revolution.