Recent Posts

Zhou Enlai

“The Secret Sexual Life of Zhou Enlai and the Limits of Historical Knowledge,” LA Review of Books China Blog

February 22, 2016

Retroactively outing a historical figure remains problematic, not because of the sex — Zhou Enlai may well have had erotic relations with other men — but because such studies are often methodologically flawed. Too often, contemporary understandings of romance and sexuality, gay or straight, are read into texts from another time period. But doing so can prejudice the data and lead to shaky conclusions. It is an error of perception when we use present-day standards to judge or categorize evidence of past behavior. [Read More...]

Zhou Enlai, the Qingming Festival, and the spring demonstrations of 1976

April 5, 2011

Is our lasting image of Zhou Enlai to be the smooth, urbane diplomat showing up for talks in Geneva in a tailored-suit, silk tie, and a fedora, exchanging quips about the French Revolution? Or will it be the Zhou Enlai standing on top of Tiananmen with a red armband and a little red book, screeching in a high-pitched hysterical frenzy, “Long Live Chairman Mao!” as hordes of fanatical teenagers chant in the square and the Chairman looks on in approval? [Read More...]