Andrew Walder - Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor of Sociology, Stanford University
During the violent early years of China’s Cultural Revolution, the province of Guangxi experienced by far the largest death toll of any comparable region. Why? One explanation posits a process of collective killings focused on rural households categorized as class enemies by the regime. This view draws parallels with genocidal intergroup violence in Bosnia, Rwanda, and similar settings. New evidence from classified investigations conducted in China in the 1980s reveals the extent to which the killings were part of a province-wide counter-insurgency campaign carried out by village militia. The unusually high death tolls were generated by an organized effort that resembled the massacres of communists and other leftists coordinated by Indonesia’s army in 1965.
Andrew G. Walder is the Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University, where he is also a Senior Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. His recent publications include Agents of Disorder: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution (Harvard 2019) and (with Dong Guoqiang) A Decade of Upheaval: The Cultural Revolution in Rural China (Princeton, 2021). This talk is based on a book to be published by Stanford University Press in January 2023: Civil War in Guangxi: The Cultural Revolution in China’s Southern Periphery.