Blooming, Contending, and Staying Silent: Student Activism and Campus Politics in China, 1957

Yidi Wu
UC Irvine

This project examines Chinese university student reactions between the Hundred Flowers Movement and the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1957. Three universities across China were examined in order to show how various groups of students over nationwide political campaigns vary, as they often seek voices from activists and non-activists alike to illuminate the full spectrum of motivation and participation in the student movement. The investigation examines political and social reactions as a series of crises in the Communist world triggered by Khrushchev’s “secret speech” and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Drawing upon archival documents and oral histories, the project investigates a nearly forgotten episode of Chinese student activism in the opening years of the Mao era, and ultimately contributes to a better understanding of independent thinking under Soviet-style socialist education, student activism beyond activist narratives and contentious politics in illiberal political settings.