Liberating the Small Devils: Red Guard Newspapers and Radical Publics, 1966-1968

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Red Guard newspapers and pamphlets (wenge xiaobao) were a key source for early research on the Cultural Revolution, but they have rarely been analysed in their own right. How did these publications regard their status and function within the larger information ecosystem of the People's Republic, and what is their role in the history of the modern Chinese public sphere? This article focuses on a particular subset of Red Guard papers, namely those published by radical groups within the PRC's press and publication system. These newspapers critiqued the pre-Cultural Revolution press and reflected upon the possible futures of a new, revolutionary Chinese press. Short-lived as these experiments were, they constitute a test case to re-examine the functioning of the public in a decidedly uncivil polity. Ultimately, they point to the ambiguous potential of the public for both consensus and conflict, liberation and repression, which characterizes the press in 20th-century China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-373
Number of pages20
JournalChina Quarterly
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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