Mr. Science and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution

Mr. Science and Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution : Science and Technology in Modern China

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China is emerging as a new superpower in science and technology, reflected in the success of its spacecraft and high-velocity Maglev trains. While many seek to understand the rise of China as a technologically-based power, the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s may seem an unlikely era to explore for these insights. Despite the widespread verdict of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as an unmitigated disaster for China, a number of recent scholars have called for re-examining Maoist science-both in China and in the West. At one time Western observers found much to admire in Chairman Mao's mass science, his egalitarian effort to take science out of the ivory tower and place it in the hands of the disenfranchised peasant, the loyal worker, and the patriot soldier. Chunjuan Nancy Wei and Darryl E. Brock have assembled a rich mix of talents and topics related to the fortunes and misfortunes of science, technology, and medicine in modern China, while tracing its roots to China's other great student revolution-the May Fourth Movement.
Historians of science, political scientists, mathematicians, and others analyze how Maoist science served modern China in nationalism, socialism, and nation-building-and also where it failed the nation and the Chinese people. If the Cultural Revolution contributed to China's emerging space program and catalyzed modern malaria treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, it also provided the origins of a science talent gap and the milieu from which a one-child policy would arise. Given the fundamental importance of China today, and of East Asia generally, it is imperative to have a better understanding of its most recent scientific history, but especially that history in a period of crisis and how that crisis was resolved. What is at issue here is not only the specific domain of the history of science, but the social and scientific policies of China generally as they developed and were applied prior to, during, and after the Cultural Revolution.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 426 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 30.48mm | 793.78g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739149741
  • 9780739149744

Review quote

This volume corrals the efforts of 12 scholars in the history of science to challenge the narrative of intellectual stagnation during the Cultural Revolution. Contributors use case studies to reveal that scientists who could apply their work to the needs of the common people aligned their intellectual endeavors with communist ideology and secured state funding. Chapters explore the intricacies of work in fields as diverse as calculus, physics, aerospace engineering, health care, agricultural engineering, demography, and social science to illustrate significant advances despite political setbacks. Scholars featured here acknowledge that bending academic pursuits to the desires of the state restricted intellectual life, but move beyond this assessment to explore the areas in which notable strides occurred. Moreover, contributors note that certain projects, including the creation of China's first satellite in 1970, the barefoot doctor movement of 1968 to 1981, and the nationwide implementation of the one-child policy were communist initiatives. This book puts to rest any claim that the communist state was anything but thoroughly committed to the promotion of science and technology, and continues the assessment of this work on its own terms without reference to foreign standards. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers/faculty, and professionals. CHOICE [The] collection represents a fresh and daring effort to explore the true impact of the Cultural Revolution on Chinese science, technology, and medicine. It brings out some new and inspiring papers and should stimulate more comprehensive and more profound investigations. Technology and Culture This volume is perhaps the richest, most sustained interdisciplinary exploration available of the current historiography of a crucial period in the history of science in modern China. -- Carla Nappi, The University of British Columbia This volume brings together the best of Western and Chinese scholarship on a crucial subject: How science and revolution affect and transform each other. Scrupulously researched, and boldly argued, these essays shed new light on many aspects of science (from mathematics to cosmology) with a genuinely comparative perspective in mind. -- Vera Schwarcz, Wesleyan University Anyone interested in Mao's China or in the history of science in modern China will want to read this book. It offers a fresh look at the complex and multifaceted relationship between science and the Cultural Revolution. -- Fa-ti Fan, State University of New York at Binghamton
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About Chunjuan Nancy Wei

Chunjuan Nancy Wei is associate professor and chair of the International Political Economy & Diplomacy program at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, with a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University, and her work appears in New Dynamics in East Asian Politics (2012). Darryl E. Brock is a Ph.D. candidate in modern history at Fordham University in New York City, with an M.A. in history from Claremont Graduate University, and is author of the book China and Darwinian Evolution: Influence on Intellectual and Social Development (2010).
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Table of contents

Foreword by Joseph W. Dauben Acknowledgments PART I. INTRODUCTION Chapter 1. Introduction: Reassessing the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, by Darryl E. Brock and Chunjuan Nancy Wei Chapter 2. The People's Landscape: Mr. Science and the Mass Line, by Darryl E. Brock PART II. SCIENCE, SOCIETY AND THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION Chapter 3. Science Imperiled: Intellectuals and the Cultural Revolution, by Cong Cao Chapter 4. Screening the Maoist Mr. Science: Breaking with Old Ideas and Constructing the Post-Capitalist University, by Michael A. Mikita PART III. SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES AND THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION Chapter 5. Dialectics of Numbers: Marxism, Maoism, and the Calculus of Infinitesimals, by Yibao Xu Chapter 6. Ideology and Cosmology: Maoist Discussion on Physics and the Cultural Revolution, by Yinghong Cheng Chapter 7. Space for the People: China's Aerospace Industry and the Cultural Revolution, by Stacey Solomone Chapter 8. Barefoot Doctors: The Legacy of Chairman Mao's Healthcare, by Chunjuan Nancy Wei Chapter 9. Rural Agriculture: Scientific and Technological Development during the Cultural Revolution, by Dongping Han PART IV. THE POST-MAO SPRINGTIME FOR SCIENCE Chapter 10. Missile Science, Population Science: The Origins of China's One-Child Policy, by Susan Greenhalgh Chapter 11. Worker Innovation: Did Maoist Promotion Contribute to China's Present Technological and Economic Success?, by Rudi Volti Chapter 12. On the Appropriate Use of Rose-Colored Glasses: Reflections on Science in Socialist China, by Sigrid Schmalzer Selected Bibliography Index Contributors
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