Professor Xiaojian Zhao (Asian American Studies, UC Santa Barbara, California) | Crime and Punishment: Revisiting the Sent-Down Youth Movement in Mao’s China

February 4, 2021 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Join us via Zoom: (Zoom ID: 925 5728 2471)

Of all the political campaigns that reconfigured daily life in the first three decades of the People’s Republic of China, the “sent-down youth” movement that sent 17 million urban youth to live in rural China from 1968-1980 is one of the most vividly remembered and hotly debated. Reflected in popular and scholarly literature, the victimization of sent-down youth has been invoked to symbolize the suffering of all Chinese people during the Cultural Revolution.

Based on investigation files—texts of accusations, confessions, investigative reports, and sentencing records–from rural county archives in China, Professor Zhao will discuss how a campaign triggered by a state directive in 1973 was launched to pressure local officials to identify, expose, and investigate individuals who “harmed sent-down youth,” and how the investigation campaign ultimately created a stereotypical image of villagers as abusers who were unfit to host, let alone educate, urban youth.

Bio: Xiaojian Zhao is a professor of the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She is the author of several books, including the award winning Remaking Chinese America: Immigration, Family and Community (2001). Her most recent book, Across the Great Divide: China’s Sent-Down Youth Movement (with Emily Honig) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.