Compte rendu : The Lost Generation

Bernstein, Thomas P. (2014). Review of ‘The Lost Generation: The Rustication of China’s Educated Youth (1968–1980)’. The China Quarterly. 218, pp 574-576. doi:10.1017/S030574101400054X.

Between l962 and 1980, around 17.9 million zhiqing – educated or “sent down” youth – were dispatched to the countryside and border regions. During much of this period, urban youth were expected to transform themselves into peasants and spend the rest of their lives in rural China. In fact, many had already returned before Mao’s death but from 1977 on, returns turned into a flood. By the end of 1980 only around a million still remained in the countryside. Bonnin estimates that the average term of service in the countryside was six years.

This book was first published in French in 2004 but appeared in English only in 2013. The long period that elapsed between the end of the programme, around 1980, and 2004 enabled the author to utilize the extensive sources that became available during the reform period. These include memoirs and fiction written by former zhiqing, numerous documentary collections and academic literature that has appeared in China. He also used the sources available while the movement was in progress, including interviews of zhiqing who had fled to Hong Kong. He found that their accounts “overwhelmingly” did not differ from the findings of his later mainland interviews and research sources (p. xxv). The author also drew in full on the secondary literature. The result is a rich, comprehensive book, full of excellent analysis and telling anecdotes. Bonnin’s account is likely to be regarded as the definitive work on the subject for years to come.

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  • Ouvrage traduit de : Génération perdue. Le mouvement d’envoi des jeunes instruits à la campagne en Chine, 1968-1980. Paris : Éditions de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2004, 491 p. Disponible à la bibliothèque du CECMC : Cote M 8007
  • L’ ouvrage a été traduit par Krystyna Horko. Il est paru début juillet 2013 aux éditions de l’université chinoise de Hong Kong (The Chinese University Press) sous le titre : The Lost Generation: The Rustication of China’s Educated Youth (1968–1980).
  • Plus d’information sur les versions chinoises


Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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