Mao Cult: Rhetoric and Ritual in China's Cultural Revolution

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 31, 2011 - History
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Although many books have explored Mao's posthumous legacy, none has scrutinized the massive worship that was fostered around him during the Cultural Revolution. This book is the first to do so. By analyzing secret archival documents, Daniel Leese traces the history of the cult within the Communist Party and at the grassroots level. The party leadership's original intention was to develop a prominent brand symbol, which would compete with the nationalists' elevation of Chiang Kai-shek. However, they did not anticipate that Mao would use this symbolic power to mobilize Chinese youth to rebel against party bureaucracy itself. The result was anarchy and when the army was called in it relied on mandatory rituals of worship such as daily reading of the Little Red Book to restore order. Such fascinating detail sheds light not only on the personality cult of Mao, but also on hero-worship in other traditions.
 

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Contents

Coming to Terms with the Cult of the Individual
25
1 The Secret Speech and Its Impact
27
2 The Dual Nature of Commodities
47
3 Redefining the Cult
67
Charismatic Mobilization
87
4 Lively Study and Application
89
The Little Red Book
108
6 Spectacles of Worship
128
Cult and Compliance
149
7 Ambiguous Symbols
151
8 The Language of Loyalty
174
9 Rituals and Commodities
195
10 Curbing the Cult
226
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About the author (2011)

Daniel Leese is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. He is the editor of Brill's Encyclopedia of China (2008).

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