episteme issue 10 approaches Maoism as a traveling theory, highlighting how Maoism was interpreted and implemented in a variety of contexts outside of socialist China.


issue 10: maoism on the move

january 2024

Photo: Caption


The contributions to episteme issue 10 approach Maoism as a traveling theory. They highlight how the questions raised by Maoism’s interventions into revolutionary practice, temporality, subjectivity, and contradiction were taken up as relevant to a variety of actors outside of the People’s Republic of China. Thiti Jamkajornkeiat exposes the significance of Maoism and the Chinese Communist Party’s interpretation of Leninism in the context of the Sino-Soviet Split, reframing the split as a set of opposing contradictions about the nature of revolutionary practice. Cynthia Yuan Gao approaches the engagements of US social movements with the Cultural Revolution through a rethinking of the embodied relationship between subjectivity, emotion, and practice. Ruodi Duan identifies the utility of Maoism for African American radical politics, and how the reinterpretation of Maoism in Third Worldist movements helped transform how the Chinese Communist Party understood its own definitions of race, ethnicity and nationalism. 

Recognizing the diversity of interpretations of Maoism also has implications for assessing its complicated legacy, or what we might call its contradictions in history. In this vein, Gabriel Solis addresses the underappreciated influence of Maoism on Chicano and Mexicano radicalisms, as well as the later disavowal of that influence by those same radicals. A history of Maoism on the move requires an understanding of the tradition not as fixed in either romantic fantasy or harsh condemnation, but rather the recognition of its dialectical movement, encompassing, as Solis’ mentor explains, “living and dying at the same time.” A closer attention to the many legacies of Maoism thus brings us closer to an assessment of the revolutionary 20th century and our relation to it in the present. What about Maoism has died, and which of its lessons have continued to live?

— Cynthia Yuan Gao, editor