CFP: "Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible?"

From Saul Thomas <>
Date Tue, 20 Sep 2005 11:32:52 -0500

Open Call for Participation
"Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible?"
University of Washington, Seattle
February 24-26, 2006

The central role of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in modern
political history and contemporary philosophy of history has
thus far eluded serious consideration.  The reasons for this
are various.  First, a history of the Cultural Revolution will
require new theoretical perspectives as well as new research
procedures.  The Cultural Revolution is usually expurgated
from scholarly agendas or considered simply as a form of
negation, or fetishized as an ahistorical madness.  This
radical negation of historicity has led to an impasse where
political situations lack appropriate analysis.  Second, as
the large number of historical documents held in reserve at
the great libraries of Peking University and Qinghua
University are released in CD-ROM form, the absence of a
viable analytical or philosophical framework to guide
specialized research on the Cultural Revolution becomes
increasingly obvious.  Indeed, a problem raised by the
question "Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible" is
precisely what relation will be struck between the
extraordinarily prolific and available primary source
materials and logics for comprehending the event itself.
Thus, third, historians run the risk that in the absence of
reflective, thoughtful analysis our scholarship will remain
mired in fantasies and indebted to apolitical mythologies.

"Is a History of the Cultural Revolution Possible?  A Workshop
in Concert with Alain Badiou" will be held at the University
of Washington, Seattle, on February
23-25, 2006.  The intellectual origins of the project lie in
ongoing discussions among Alessandro Russo, Claudia Pozzana,
Donald Lowe, Wang Hui and Tani Barlow on questions of 20th
century Chinese history.  The visit of Alain Badiou to the
University as a Katz Lecturer is providing the occasion for us
to directly raise the question of how and whether a history of
the Chinese Cultural Revolution can be written.  Alain Badiou
will attend the workshop.  Invited guest scholars are
scheduled to present their research and speculations during
the first day.

This call for proposals solicits participation from interested
scholars for a second day of presentations and discussions on
the question "Is a history of the Cultural Revolution
possible?" to take place on February 26. Local scholars are
particularly encouraged to send proposals.  Given the urgency
of this project and its timeliness, however, we look forward
to participation from all quarters.

Please send a one page statement describing your project to
Prof. Tani Barlow, Department of History, Box 353560,
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 or by email to before October 15, 2005.  Notification
will come in the early fall.