The Politics of Historical Justice after the Death of Mao Zedong

Wednesday March 20, 2019
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
The xʷθəθiqətəm or Place of Many Trees (formerly the Liu Multipurpose Room),
6476 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, V6T 1Z2

With Dr. Daniel Leese Professor of modern Chinese history and politics, University of Freiburg

This talk will take recent debates on the legacies of the Cultural Revolution as a starting point to address the question of how the Chinese Communist Party dealt with injustices from the Mao era in the late 1970s and early 1980s and place these developments in broader historical perspective. Given that the Communist Party politically survived a tumultuous event such as the Cultural Revolution, but also the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the fall of the Soviet Union, the strategies of coping with a violent past under state socialism merit special interest. The talk will highlight in particular the relation between politics and law, competing strategies of legitimation under Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping, and the party leadership’s holistic approach to justice and rehabilitation. Thereby it will also raise the issue of how selectively applied approaches nowadays associated with the concept of transitional justice may serve to strengthen rather than subvert authoritarian rule.

About the speaker: Daniel Leese is Professor of modern Chinese history and politics at the University of Freiburg and currently a fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. He is the author of Mao Cult (Cambridge 2011) and Die Chinesische Kulturrevolution  (C.H. Beck 2016), as well as the editor of Brill’s Encyclopedia of China (Brill 2009) and Victims, Perpetrators, and the Role of Law in Maoist China (De Gruyter 2018, with Puck Engman). He is principal investigator of the project “The Maost Legacy: Party Dictatorship, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Truth” and with his research group has compiled a digital archive on this period.