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.
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