Following Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957–58, Chinese intellectuals were subjected to “re-education” by the state. In Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness, Ning Wang draws on labour farm archives and other newly uncovered Chinese-language sources, including an interview with a camp guard, to provide a remarkable look at the suffering and complex psychological world of intellectuals banished to China’s remote north. Wang’s use of grassroots sources challenges our perception of the intellectual as a renegade martyr – revealing how exiles often denounced one another and, for self-preservation, declared allegiance to the state.
Ning Wang is an associate professor in the History Department at Brock University. Previously, he spent ten years working in a Communist Party history research institute in China.
Wang Ning has presented us with an extremely rich study of beidahuang, and the transparency of his deployment of sources, as well as his acknowledgement of their limits... ensures this book will remain relevant and valuable in the long term.
Seen through a wider lens, Ning Wang’s work inspires us to rethink thought and labour reform in China as part of a larger global history that continues to evolve.
Wang’s exploration of political exiles in Mao’s China incorporates his exhaustive research into a truly beautiful narrative, full of individual voices… raw and moving … Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness [is] indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of the People’s Republic of China