Re: Great Leap Forward texts?

From Daniel Frederick Vukovich <>
Date Thu, 1 Mar 2007 18:44:24 +0800
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The best piece that I know of is by Utsa Patnaik, in a book called Thinking
Social Science in India: Essays in Honor of Alice Thorner.  Had it out of the
UC library system a while back, Alex, so you can get it that way.  It is a long
difficult, dense text that deals with the use and abuse of stats and demography
by Coale and Bannister et al, plus Sen, "linear progression analysis" and such
things.  Comparisons to economic history INdia etc (her main area of research).
  Title is something like "On Famine and Famine Deaths." A really great
critique and what Utsa does with people who do things with numbers and stats
for dodgy and bad political ends is something to see. Makes her sound
Foucauldian, which would bemuse her.  She also has a piece entitled "Republic
of Hunger" which rehearses some of the same ground, but is more on India and a
bit on Russia's drop in demographic terms. Used to be on the web somewhere, and
is published in Social Scientist.  

There was an issue of Chinese Econo History a while back that was a special
issue on the leap/famine.  Riskin has a piece in there which is predictably
good  but less searching and deep than the one above, but is notable for saying
"look we dont really know, lets open the archive and talk to people who made
the 1980s figures before they die.").  I used both in a longish  more
theoretical discussion of why the inflated numbers persist (turning on
orientalist memes like "Chinese proportions", the "massness" of China/the

If any of you know any good pieces in Chinese let me know, as I might have some
moolah for hiring translations next term. 

cheers and stay away from those anarchist theatre troops in Nor Cal, eh?

not a film critic, Dan

Daniel F. Vukovich
Assistant Professor
Comparative Literature, School of Humanities
208 Main Bldg.
The University of Hong Kong
(852) 2859 7934

Quoting Alex Day <>:

> I was asked about this by someone else, but am also interested myself.  What
> are the best texts on the Great Leap Forward and the following "three
> difficult years"?  Are there any that interrogate the common story of
> collective disaster well?  Is there any new research on this subject that
> people know of that is interesting?
> best and hi to all,
>  Alex
> We won't tell. Get more on shows you hate to love 
> (and love to hate): Yahoo! TV's Guilty Pleasures list.