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Department of Social Anthropology


Pioneering account draws on the eyewitness recollections of a Chinese rebel participant


When the Cultural Revolution reached China’s border region of Inner Mongolia in 1966, it caused the largest pogrom ever experienced in the People’s Republic. Mao’s class struggle injunctions exacerbated Chinese-Mongol ethnic conflicts and China’s geopolitical clash with the Soviet Union and its ally, the Mongolian People’s Republic. Not only did the pogrom take over 16,000 Mongol lives, with more than five times that number maimed by official count, it shattered a core premise of Chinese governance: nationality autonomy for minority peoples.


Professor Uradyn E Bulag, an historical and political anthropologist at the University of Cambridge, has published the first in-depth analysis of this period. ‘A Chinese Rebel beyond the Great Wall: The Cultural Revolution and Ethnic Pogrom in Inner Mongolia’ is a pioneering first-person account, grounded in a personal memoir by Chinese rebel participant Cheng Tiejun, a student Red Guard activist turned journalist. TJ Cheng – now emeritus professor of sociology at Macau University – co-authored this book alongside Uradyn and Mark Selden, emeritus professor of sociology and history at the State University of New York.



The co-authors provide a riveting account that ranges from the perspective of Chinese and Mongol rebels at the grassroots to high politics at the centre of the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot and the Central Cultural Revolution Group led by Zhou Enlai in Beijing. A final chapter offers a new interpretation of the violence against the Mongols at the intersection of the Cultural Revolution in the borderlands and the radical transformation of China’s minority nationality politics.


Offering new perspectives on the Cultural Revolution in light of ethnic conflict, pogroms, geopolitical conflict, and China’s modern revolutionary history of nation-building and consolidating its ethnic frontier, the book is particularly timely in light of contemporary repression on China’s Xinjiang, Tibetan and Hong Kong borderlands, now extending into Inner Mongolia, and deepening US-China tensions which cast the Cultural Revolution’s legacies in new light. 


‘A Chinese Rebel beyond the Great Wall: The Cultural Revolution and Ethnic Pogrom in Inner Mongolia’
TJ Cheng, Uradyn E. Bulag, and Mark Selden
Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2023.