The Masses in Their Own Write (and Draw) : The Heroes' Register from the Great Cultural Revolution in Yunnan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This book chapter introduces the reader to an anthology of reportage, essays, eulogies, poems, proclamations, drawings, photographs, letters and more from the most chaotic phase of China’s Cultural Revolution. Entitled A Heroes’ Register, it is one of no more than a handful of surviving self-documenting accounts by the ‘dictating masses’ themselves of the ‘dictatorship of the masses’, as the Maoist socio-political order was indeed spoken of in the PRC in 1968. What it documents is the dark side of direct democracy, the unfettered ‘mass’ application of coercive powers devolved to ‘grass roots’ communities from and by the state. It is not a purely factual record, nor is it fiction, but a hybrid literary form with snippets of ‘raw’ data added like a docudrama script. Once the Cultural Revolution was over, ‘mass dictatorship’ was denounced as a fatally flawed experiment, and it was ordered that artefacts from it be destroyed. Four decades on, this anthology is a work out of step with the current times: the modern China bears no resemblance to what was expected or willed at the time it was written; and the present seems happy, most of the time, not to be reminded of what the past may once have been like.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • China, Cultural Revolution, Yunnan, mass dictatorship, literature, faction
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagining Mass Dictatorships: The individual and the masses in literature and cinema
EditorsMichael Schoenhals, Karin Sarsenov
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Volume#5 in book series "Mass Dictatorship in the 20th Century"
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-33068-0
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

Volume#5 in book series "Mass Dictatorship in the 20th Century"

Related projects

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Project: Research

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Project: Research

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