Land and Retribution: Morality, Mobilization, and Violence in China’s Land Reform Campaign (1950-1952)
Javed, Jeffrey Arshad
MetadataShow full item record
CitationJaved, Jeffrey Arshad. 2017. Land and Retribution: Morality, Mobilization, and Violence in China’s Land Reform Campaign (1950-1952). Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractChina’s land reform campaign was the most extensive and violent redistribution of land in history, with estimates of millions of people killed or otherwise persecuted through mass mobilized “class struggle.” Yet it is unclear how the new regime managed to mobilize local communities, many of which lacked salient class divisions, to participate in this massive episode of class violence. I argue that the Party mobilized mass participation in violence by emphasizing and sensationalizing the moral transgressions of a subset of the landed elite, while simultaneously emphasizing the virtue and victimhood of the masses. Through this process of moral mobilization, the Party delineated a new moral boundary between the “oppressed” masses and the cruel and corrupt landlord class; it was on the basis of this new moral boundary that the Party galvanized popular outrage and participation in retributive violence against members of the landed elite and other perceived moral transgressors.
Drawing on archival documents, internal Party publications, oral histories, memoirs, and a unique historical dataset of 124 local county gazetteers gathered over twelve months of fieldwork, I explore how the Party used moral mobilization to mobilize mass violence across localities in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces. By comparing localities situated in contrasting geographic regions under the same political jurisdiction, I illustrate how the targeting and intensity of moral mobilization varied at the local level. I find that the specific social categories of people targeted and punished in a locality differed according to the predominant moral norms that governed social relations between the landed elite and the local community. My analysis of local patterns of violence reveals that economic inequality and other socioeconomic indicators do not predict the intensity, or amount, of violence mobilized. Rather, local governments’ dual capacity to mobilize and control violence affected how much violence a locality endured.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41141689
- FAS Theses and Dissertations