China and Inner Asia

Roundtable Session

(39) Unreconciled Memories: Oral Histories of the Cultural Revolution

3/22/2018
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Washington Room 4, Exhibit Level

It has been over half a century since the launch of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in China and people who have experienced it are now aged and aging, yet no consensus has been reached about its origin, consequences, and aftermath. Instead, nostalgia and amnesia in contemporary China threaten to bury the truth of this notorious historical event. Responding to the urgency of saving memories, the East Asian Library at the University of Pittsburgh launched a CR/10 (Cultural Revolution/10 minutes) Project in late 2016, collecting short interviews of people from different ages, professions, family backgrounds, and geographical locations that bring to light a multitude of narratives and perspectives about the memories of the Cultural Revolution. The ongoing CR/10 project is the first digital archive on the subject that will be used for teaching and research. This innovative and interdisciplinary roundtable will revolve around the screening of selected CR/10 interviews, followed by discussions among scholars in history, literature, sociology, and information science regarding the crystalline memories of the Cultural Revolution. Discussants have begun receiving recordings of the interviews, while subtitling in English and editing proceed. Discussants will bring their own expertise to comment on the significance of the CR/10 project in particular, and oral history in general. For instance, Rongqian Ma (Library) will demonstrate how the digital archive in the library will help teaching and research and preserve memories of the Cultural Revolution; Paul Pickowicz (History) will incorporate his own filmed interviews on the subject to question the simplified victimization narrative and class-based interpretation to uncover the complex nature of his historical event; and Guobin Yang (Sociology) will discuss how the CR/10 project sheds light on the meanings of revolutionary tradition and political culture for the Cultural Revolution generation as well as the powerful influences of this political culture on their behavior in the Red Guard movement. As a whole, this roundtable discussion will address the crisis of memory and explore various perspectives, methodologies, and ways of collaborating to deal with controversial histories such as that of the Cultural Revolution.

 

Kun Qian

University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Kun Qian

University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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    Evelyn Rawski

    University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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      Paul Pickowicz

      University of California, San Diego, California

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        Ban Wang

        Stanford University, California

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          Guobin Yang

          University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania

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            Rongqian Ma

            University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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