Incriminated writers and their wives : Gendered memory of a national campaign in Mao’s China

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Journal / PublicationMemory Studies
Issue number1
Online published22 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


The primary source of this study is 76 video interviews concerning a political campaign by the Chinese Communist Party: the Anti-Hu Feng Counter-revolutionary Clique Movement (1955–1956). This campaign and the long incrimination of its central figures—Hu Feng (1902–1985), his wife Mei Zhi (1914–2004), and other associates—have had an impact on Chinese intellectuals for nearly seven decades and generated hundreds of (auto)biographies, memoirs, critical writings, and scholarly studies since the 1980s. Victimized writers managed to publish again, but the stories of their wives remained obscured and marginalized for years. This article presents three research findings: first, the wives provide different but equally essential testimonies as do the writers; second, methods used by feminist historians can benefit oral history collection from all, but from women and the marginalized in particular; and third, gendered memory helps to bridge the gap between those who have and have not personally experienced specific historical events.

© The Author(s) 2023

Research Area(s)

  • Memory, oral history, gender, democracy, Political campaigns, Chinese history, Chinese writers, Women's Human Rights, freedom of speech, freedom of press, Collective Memory