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Powerful Speech: Remembering the Long Cultural Revolution in Yunnan

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image of Inner Asia

In anthropological and historical accounts of the Maoist period, memory emerges as both a method and a problem for research. This article explores Nusu elders memories of the Mao era in the highlands of northwest Yunnan, along the Burmese border. Nusu refer to the bitter events of 1958 to roughly 1978 collectively as the Cultural Revolution . Their autobiographical speech blends the socialist genre of speaking bitterness with distinctly Nusu forms of lament. Their strategies of memory in particular, their counter-chronological narratives, strategic omissions, and reinventions of the past evade questions of guilt to assert themselves instead as victims. This article traces the internationalisation of state power and appropriation of state rhetoric in Nusu elders memories of the Long Cultural Revolution in Yunnan.


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