08 Aug Crossing the Regional Divide Research Focus Group
Xiojian Zhao, Asian American Studies
Xiaowei Zheng, History and East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies
This Research Focus Group examines a unique moment in the history of urban/rural relations in modern China: the sent-down youth movement that accompanied the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). This movement is one of the only contexts in which the more typical migration pattern—not only in China but around the world—of peasants migrating to cities was revered, with a substantial number (14-17 million) of young urban residents sent to live in rural areas for periods averaging between two and ten years. It represents, according to at least one scholar, “probably the largest urban to rural migration in human history” (Li 2008). The Research Focus Group examines questions concerning the urban-rural divide in Maoist China, the social and economic aspects of that divide, and the implications of crossing that divide—in terms of class, gender, and regional identities—for both urban youth and their rural hosts.