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Making Revolution on the Mind: Fanxin and the Exercise of Thought-Power in the Land Reform Movement of Northern China (1946–48)

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The practice of fanxin, literally, “turning hearts and minds,” was widespread in the Liberated Areas of Northern China during the Land Reform Movement of 1946–48. This article examines the forms of power relations emerged during the course of revolutionary education and transformation which were geared towards awakening the peasants’ “self-consciousness of mastership.” Taking ku/suffering as the focal point, the article investigates two main types of thought-power, “speaking bitterness” (suku) and “visiting the suffering people” (fangku), both of which were important to the practices of fanxin. Through the investigation of fanxin, this empirical study reveals an important feature of the Chinese revolution: that is, the significance of the mind/heart, thought, or “spiritual elements.”


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