Speaking Maoist: Labor and Politics in Northeast China, 1948-58

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

This paper explores the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to politically mobilize the workforce of Anshan Iron and Steel Works (Angang), then China's largest steel enterprise, during the first decade of their rule of Manchuria (Northeast China). Under the CCP, workers and engineers were educated in Maoist ideology via study programs and propaganda campaigns. Under the "danwei" (work unit) system, employees depended on their state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for social welfare benefits. To advance their status within the system engineered by the CCP, workers and engineers appropriated the discourse and institutional rules propagated by the party, as illustrated by Angang engineers during the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1957. SOE workers and engineers navigated their interests within the CCP-defined rules of the game.

About the Speaker

Koji Hirata is Lecturer in History at Monash University. He did his Ph.D. in history at Stanford University. He was a Research Fellow (JRF) at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge before coming to Monash. His research touches on modern China, Japan, and Russia/Soviet Union with broader implications for the global history of capitalism and socialism. His new book, Making Mao's Steelworks: Industrial Manchuria and the Transnational Origins of Chinese Socialism, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in August 2024 (https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/making-maos-steelworks/A4E9283F0FE304448D3D8B98CAF1E42F). Between 2024 and 2026, he serves as an ARC DECRA research fellow, working on his new project, "Rethinking Mao's China from a Global Economic Perspective: A History."

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.


Date and Times


Seminar Room
Australian Centre on China in the World