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Following the publication of his latest book, Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman: Echoes of Counterrevolution in New China (Stanford 2022), the Lau China Institute hosts an in-person discussion with Professor Brian DeMare. In this book talk, Professor DeMare will be joined by Dr Charlotte Goodburn, Deputy Director of the Lau China Institute and Dr Jane Hayward, Lecturer in China and Global Affairs, Lau China Institute, to discuss land reform, its decisive changes in rural China, contemporary legacy and counterrevolution. Through a remarkable casefile method Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman presents four criminal cases that jointly shed light on rural China and what the revolution meant to rural citizens during the rising years of the People's Republic.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Event's running order:

5-6pm book talk and panel

6-6:15pm Q&A

6:15-7pm Drinks reception


About the book

The rural county of Poyang, lying in northern Jiangxi Province, goes largely unmentioned in the annals of modern Chinese history. Yet records from the Public Security Bureau archive hold a treasure trove of data on the every day interactions between locals and the law. Drawing on these largely overlooked resources, Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman follows four criminal cases that together uniquely illuminate the dawning years of the People's Republic.

Using a unique casefile approach, Brian DeMare recounts stories of a Confucian scholar who found himself allied with bandits and secret society members; a farmer who murdered a cadre; an evil tyrant who exploited religious traditions to avoid prosecution; and a merchant accused of a crime he did not commit. Each case is a tremendous tale, complete with memorable characters, plot twists, and drama. And while all depict the enemies of New China, each also reveals details of village life during this most pivotal moment of recent Chinese history. Together, the narratives bring rural regime change to life, illustrating how the Chinese Communist Party cemented its authority through mass political campaigns, careful legal investigations, and sheer patience. Balancing storytelling with historical inquiry, this book is at once a grassroots view of rural China's legal system and its application to apparent counterrevolutionaries, and a lesson in archival research itself.

About the speakers

Professor Brian DeMare is Professor of History at Tulane University. A cultural historian studying the Communist Party's great enterprise, Professor DeMare researches how Chinese citizens have negotiated with the politicization of their everyday lives. Mass campaigns, revolutionary art, and rural cultural workers are the primary concerns driving his research agenda. His first book, Mao's Cultural Army, explores the political uses of cultural performance in the rise of the Chinese Communist Party and the early years of the People's Republic of China. His second book, Land Wars (2019), deftly blends archival and narrative sources to investigate the most critical moment of Maoist rural revolution. His latest book, Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman: Echoes of Counterrevolution in New China, is a collection of true-crime studies based on archival documents from a rural county in Jiangxi Province.

Dr Charlotte Goodburn is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Politics and Development, and Deputy Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College London. She is also attached to the Department of International Development at King’s. Before starting at King’s, she was a post-doctoral researcher in the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. Dr Goodburn’s research and teaching engages with the politics of internal migration; urbanisation; the comparative development of India and China; and the movement of policies and “models” into and out of China. She completed her PhD in the Department of Land Economy at Cambridge and has a BA Hons (in History) and an MPhil (in Contemporary Chinese Studies), also from the University of Cambridge.

Dr Jane Hayward is a lecturer in China and Global Affairs at the Lau China Institute, King's College London. She researches China’s agrarian question (how rural land is organised, who controls it and who gets to profit from it). She teaches postgraduate courses on China and Globalisation, and China and Global Governance. Dr Hayward has a PhD from the East Asian Studies Department of New York University. She has held post-doctoral positions at the Oxford University China Centre and the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she worked at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies.

Please note, places are limited so registration is essential. King's staff & students will be required to show valid proof of King's ID upon entry.

At this event

Dr Charlotte Goodburn

Deputy Director, Lau China Institute

Jane Hayward

Lecturer in China and Global Affairs

Event details

Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS