Using archival sources and oral history interviews, my paper investigates the mechanisms behind and the manipulation of the classification of students’ Party loyalty, and lived experiences behind the statistics of categorization. In order to present a full spectrum of political participation, my paper traces narratives from “leftists,” “moderates,” and “rightists” among college students, and seeks to understand their mentality in this political campaign. I argue that the Anti-Rightist Campaign was not simply a campaign against “rightists,” but a classification of everyone into “leftists,” “centrists” and “rightists” as a label of one’s Party loyalty rather than one’s political orientation or ideology. The criteria of classification were ambiguous and unstable, creating difficulties for local cadres to execute the classification and insecurities for everyone involved in the campaign. In the end, enforced classification as experienced during this historical juncture had a lasting effect on people’s careers and lives.
See more of: AHA Sessions