Moving Targets

“Moving Targets: Changing Class Labels in Rural Hebei and Henan, 1960–1979,” in Jeremy Brown and Matthew D. Johnson, Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China’s Era of High Socialism (Harvard University Press, 2015), 51–76.

Page Number: 61-62
Content: The files in my collection confirm Yang Shangkun's complaints. Bound together in folders and titled "class registration forms" (jieji chengfen dengjibiao), paperwork for each family ranges in length from two to three pages. Forms from Hebei and Henan differ considerably. The Hebei forms include three separate spaces for the household's economic situation during land reform, at the time of collectivization, and "the present" (xianzai); there is also a larger space for "family history." The Henan files are brief, with a small box for "family economic situation before liberation," nine lines for information about family members, and a half-page space for miscellaneous notes (beikao). But they include a crucial element missing from many of the Hebei forms: a clear indication of what happened to each family's class status during the Four Cleanups. Whereas the Hebei forms only provide space for the household head's family background and class status, the Henan forms are more specific and give a sense of change over time with three separate blanks under the heading "family's class status": "designated at land reform," "designated at land reform reinvestigation," and "examined and approved in the Four Cleanups movement." The last category shows which families had their class status reassigned. This is great to know, but the Henan forms do not explain why the change occurred. Fortunately for researchers, scribes in Hebei's Houjiaying made up for shortcomings in their class registration forms. Whenever necessary, they appended an extra handwritten page titled "Reason for class status change." [Link] [For Henan forms, see source below (Page 62, note 42)]

Page Number: 63
Footnote Number: 42
Content: Kaifeng xian Baliwan gongshe Liutie dadui Liutiecun di liu shengchandui, Jieji chengfen dengji bo [Class status registry], May 18, 1966, author's collection. [Source coming soon, redaction required]