The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) killed nearly two million people. It produced a sprawling and unstable landscape of violence wherein victim and victimizer were often interchangeable roles. How did everyday resistance against the campaign look like? Focusing on the most vulnerable targets of discipline and punishment, I suggest that these persons were not merely objects of assault and abuse as research has assumed; they were also leading combatants against the violence of the campaign and prophets of its demise. I introduce the concept of subversive sociality to capture the creative, cooperative, and ethical dimensions of everyday resistance.
Eddy U is a Professor of Sociology and Director of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Davis. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. His open-access book, Creating the Intellectual: Chinese Communism and the Rise of a Classification (University of California Press) was a co-winner of the 2020 Barrington Moore Award from the American Sociological Association.