Third World Internationalism: Films and Operas in the Chinese Cultural Revolution

  • Ban Wang
Part of the Chinese Literature and Culture in the World book series (CLCW)


“Eight hundred million people watching eight shows” is a cruel joke about the barrenness of culture during the Cultural Revolution. But in recent years, scholars such as Paul Clark and Barbara Mittler, among others, have demonstrated that there was life—and much of it quite interesting and vibrant—in the proverbial cultural desert. In his book The Chinese Cultural Revolution, Clark offers insights into cultural innovations and professional perfectionism beyond the conventional narratives of elite power games in high places. Listening attentively beneath the loud noise of propaganda to the muffled music of artistic experiment and innovation, Clark shows that an undercurrent of cultural life was still going on, and creating a new aesthetics.1 Taking a long view of China’s revolutionary history, Barbara Mittler, in her A Continuous Revolution, decries the myth that the Cultural Revolution is something radically new and disruptive.


Cultural Revolution World Internationalism Metropolitan Center Chinese Foreign Policy Chinese Revolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Paul Clark, The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barbara Mittler, A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2012), 64–78.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Wang Hui, “Depoliticized Politics: From East to West,” New Left 41 (2006): 31.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    For an excellent discussion of these issues, see Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, 3rd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  5. Cao Tianyue, ed., Modernization, Globalization and China’s Path of Development (Xiandaihua, quan-qiuhua yu Zhongguo daolu) (Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2003).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics (London: Continuum, 2004), 12–13.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: Penguin, 2004), 66.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For an excellent discussion of China’s nationalism and foreign policy, see Tianbiao Zhu, “Nationalism and Chinese Foreign Policy,” The China Review 1(1) (2001): 1–27.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Samir Amin, Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World (London: Zed Books, 1989), 130.Google Scholar
  10. Shaoguang Wang, “The Structural Sources of the Cultural Revolution,” in The Chinese Cultural Revolution Reconsidered, edited by Kam-yee Law (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 241–258.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History ofthe World, 1914— 1911 (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 444–447.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Ibid. For a recent collection of essays about how Mao’s red book of quotations was disseminated and studied by political activists around the world, see Alex Cook, ed., Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Amin argues that the loss of the revolutionary vocation through the welfare state and Fordism makes revolution impossible in the West. See Amin, Delinking, 12. Giovanni Arrighi makes a similar point in his monumental The Long Twentieth Century (London: Verso, 1994), 320–321.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Vicky Randall, “Using and Abusing the Concept of the Third World: Geopolitics and the Comparative Political Study of Development and Underdevelopment,” Third World Quarterly 25(1) (2004): 43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 21.
    For a reliable source of information and history, see Aidan Foster-Carter, “North Korea: Development and Self-Reliance: A Critical Appraisal,” in Korea: North and South: The Deepening Crisis, edited by Gavan McCormack and Mark Selden (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1978), 115–149.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ban Wang 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ban Wang

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations