Revolution #184, November 29, 2009
Symposium at UC Berkeley:
“Rediscovering China’s Cultural Revolution— Art and Politics, Lived Experience, Legacies of Liberation”
A rich and extraordinary picture of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) emerged November 6-8 at UC Berkeley. Through a beautiful poster art show, presentations and panel discussions, the symposium brought to life revolutionary socialism when the dominant ethos was “serve the people,” when people worked together to help each other and change the world. This came through vivid recounting of panelists’ own youthful experience, and from angles of art, history, gender and cultural studies, political economy, and revolutionary practice. The dominant narrative that the Cultural Revolution was a disaster was powerfully challenged, and critical space for rediscovery and reexamination opened. The audience of professors, scholars (including some from China), students (some of whose parents were involved in the Cultural Revolution), activists, revolutionaries, and others discussed, debated, and shared experience inside and outside the formal sessions. Many came away with new perspectives on the Cultural Revolution—and on human possibilities. And the impact of the symposium will spread beyond the weekend—among other things, a riveting book discussion with Dongping Han, author of The Unknown Cultural Revolution, was filmed by Book TV, and promises to air in coming weeks, and organizers plan to make available a video recording of the sessions.
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