Blooming, Contending, and Staying Silent: Student Activism and Campus Politics in China, 1957
Yidi Wu

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Irvine

Primary Discipline

My project examines Chinese university student reactions during the politically shifting period from the Hundred Flowers Movement to the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1957. While previous studies on Chinese student activism have focused on landmarks such as 1919’s May Fourth Movement and 1989’s Tiananmen Protests, the 1950s have often been left out completely or treated only in passing, even though the 1957 student movement is resonant with its predecessors and descendants. I choose Beijing University in the capital, Wuhan University along the Yangzi River, and Yunnan University on the southwest frontier, to show how various groups of students across China have different concerns in a nationwide political campaign, and seek voices from activists and non-activists alike to illuminate the full spectrum of motivation and participation in the student movement. Situating China in a global context, I trace political and social reactions to a series of crises in the Communist world triggered by Khrushchev’s “secret speech” and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Drawing upon archival documents and oral histories, my project investigates a nearly forgotten episode of Chinese student movement in the opening years of the Maoist era, and ultimately contributes to a better understanding of independent thinking under Sovietized socialist education, student activism beyond activist narratives and social movements in illiberal political settings.
About Yidi Wu
Yidi Wu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine. She holds a B.A. from Oberlin College in History. Her research interests focus on student activism and social movements in modern Chinese history. Her dissertation studies Chinese college students during the Hundred Flowers and the Anti-Rightist Campaigns of 1957. She has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Society, the Association for Asian Studies, and Oberlin College Alumni Association. She has co-authored two pieces with her adviser Jeffrey Wasserstrom, one on the 1989 People’s Movement in China in Chinese Studies of Oxford Bibliographies, and the other on Chinese revolution and reform in the edited volume Scripting Revolution. Her article on the Yan’an Rectification Campaign will be published in the edited volume 1943: China at the Crossroads.

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