Events & Seminars

HUMA MPhil Thesis Presentation
Workers in Early Socialist Guangzhou: “Liberation” as Everyday Experiences (Thursday 17 Aug 2017)


What did “liberation (jiefang)”, the official interpretation of the Communist takeover of China, mean to common people? The present study aims to probe the human dimension of the Communist revolution by investigating the lived experiences of urban workers in the early People’s Republic (1949-1956), during which the Chinese Communist Party newly in power confronted the dilemma of establishing social control at local level: tens of thousands of working population became jobless and many more were hesitant to be part of the party’s agenda. Emphasizing the changes and conflicts at workplaces, it shows how political needs dictated the process of power consolidation and economic transformation for the party and in so doing, there did not emerge a unified consciousness of Chinese workers being the masters of new country. A result contractionary to the party’s stated goal, what developed instead were segments of workers identifying more with the types of works recognized by the state. True that not all workers experienced the period as personal liberation, but there was “liberation” of another kind, one that was commanded by the party and made possible by the participation of the workers themselves. “Liberation” as everyday experiences was diverse, and allowed those who could fit into the party’s agenda to distinguish the new age from the old. This study comprises of three parts: the first chapter examines how underground cadres paved the way for the Communist takeover and the role of trade unions; the second chapter examines workers’ participation in political campaigns; and the third chapter is on the changes and continuities of working life as manifested in work discipline, remuneration and welfare, and education.

Mr. Ho-chiu LEUNG
August 17, 2017 (Thursday)
4:00 pm
Room 3401, Academic Building (Lift 2)