Bombard the Headquarters

bombardtheheadquartersAn Exhibition and Symposium to mark the 50th Anniversary of China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

4-6 August, 2016, University of Melbourne

On 5 August 1966, nearly three months after the launch of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong penned what he called his “big character poster”. Known by its key phrase, “bombard the headquarters”, the document was circulated at the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee on 7 August and then released to the country at large. Its distribution marked the beginning of a new and increasingly violent phase of mass activism in the so-called Revolution.

“Bombard the Headquarters” was not actually a big-character poster, but a small-character comment, known to have been jotted down by Mao on an old copy of Beijing Daily. The focus of this symposium is on the comparably small, apparently ordinary activities of daily life that were affected by and gained new meanings in the politically charged environment of Mao’s last decade. Possible themes for papers include reading, writing, dressing, eating, living, work, cost of living, singing, modes of travel, places of abode, sex, medicine, commodities, and the built environment. The coordinating committee is currently considering avenues of publication for papers fitting the theme.

The symposium will be held in conjunction with an exhibition of materials from the Baillieu Library, including its large collection of diaries from the Cultural Revolution period.

Abstracts of papers should be sent to Shan Windscript no later than 1 March, 2016. Responses will be provided on or before 15 March.

Authorized by: Antonia Finnane (committee chair), School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. Email: