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Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union$
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Felix Wemheuer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300195811

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300195811.001.0001

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Hierarchies of Hunger and Peasant-State Relations (1949–1958)

Hierarchies of Hunger and Peasant-State Relations (1949–1958)

(p.77) 3 Hierarchies of Hunger and Peasant-State Relations (1949–1958)
Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union

Felix Wemheuer

Yale University Press

This chapter examines food policies and peasant–state relations between 1949 and 1958 in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It demonstrates how the topic of hunger became more and more politicized, and explains how the conflicts that had developed in the early 1950s contributed to famine. It begins with an overview of debates concerning whether certain actions of the peasants could properly be defined as “resistance.” It then analyzes the conflicts between the state and the peasantry in the supply crises of 1953 and 1955. It demonstrates why hunger became strongly politicized and came to be a taboo topic during the Socialist Education Campaign in 1957, when the government began to believe that peasants were feigning hunger to avoid procurement and to receive famine relief. This development had deadly consequences when the famine actually broke out.

Keywords:   People’s Republic of China, PRC, hunger, famine, food policy, peasantry, Socialist Education Campaign

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