Maoist Moments: Local Actors, Global History, 1960s~1970s

Maoist Moments: Local Actors, Global History, 1960s~1970s
Yan Bo


This dissertation examines the global history of Maoism in the 1960s and 1970s. It provides analyses of three countries: China, the birthplace as well as the exporter of Maoism; the United States, a Western, liberal, and democratic country where encounters with Maoism might not be influential in a political arena, but nonetheless had long-lasting impact in cultural and social spheres; and Singapore, an example of how Maoism, as an alternative modernity, affected the newly independent Third World countries in their nation-building. Based on critical readings of university archive collections and organizational publications, interviews with historical participants, consulting secondary sources, and engagement with academic debates over the understanding of Maoism in the context of the 1960s and 1970s, this dissertation offers a historical investigation of core actors in the three countries. They are the translators and those who worked on translations, publications, and circulations of Mao’s works in China, the protesting students and social activists who were on strike for the establishment of ethnic studies in the United States, and the leftists in Singapore who challenged the ruling elites’ blueprint for nation-building at the very early stage of the republic. This dissertation proposes the concept of “Maoist moments” to refer to the global phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s that Maoism simultaneously sparked radical leftism around the world. It demonstrates that these “Maoist moments” were made possible by the fact that Maoism incentivized an imagined Third World against imperialism and by the worldwide radical leftists who invoked, adopted, and applied Maoism for their cultural, social, and political agendas.


Yan Bo

Defended in


PhD defended at

Nanyang Technological University




Global Asia (Asia and other parts of the World)
East Asia
Southeast Asia