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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness

Political Exile and Re-education in Mao’s China

Following Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957–58, Chinese intellectuals were subjected to “re-education” by the state. In Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness, Ning Wang draws on labour farm archives and other newly uncovered Chinese-language sources, including an interview with a camp guard, to provide a remarkable look at the suffering and complex psychological world of intellectuals banished to China’s remote north. Wang’s use of grassroots sources challenges our perception of the intellectual as a renegade martyr – revealing how exiles often denounced one another and, for self-preservation, declared allegiance to the state.

Table of Contents


1 The Anti-Rightist Campaign and Political Labelling

2 Beijing Rightists on the Army Farms of Beidahuang

3 Political Offenders in Xingkaihu Labour Camp

4 Life and Death in Beidahuang

5 Inner Turmoil and Internecine Strife among Political Exiles

6 End without End


Appendix A: Interview List

Appendix B: Note on the Sources and Methodology

Glossary; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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