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Mathematicians and Mathematics in China during the Cultural Revolution


Yibao Xu
Department of Mathematics, CUNY

January 20, 2009
4:00 pm
Bailey Hall 207

Refreshments will be served at 3:45 in Bailey 204


The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) is still the most destructive political movement in modern China. During that tumultuous ten years, millions died as a direct consequence of the political struggles. Tens of millions were dislocated. Higher education was abandoned entirely for the first five years. Leading experts in virtually all academic areas were deprived of their right to do research in their areas of expertise. The promising mathematical research done during the first fifteen years of the newly created communist China came to a halt, and faded away. After briefly describing the mathematical status in Communist China before 1966, the speaker will provide a setting of the Cultural Revolution by showing a 10-minute documentary film. He will then take two leading Chinese mathematicians, Wu Wenjun, or better known in the West as Wen-tsun Wu, and Gong Sheng, as examples, to discuss how the Cultural Revolution affected mathematicians' own personal lives and their research. In order to show how the politics and Marxist ideology determined mathematical research in mainland China in this period, this talk will also discuss Chinese translations of Karl Marx's Mathematical Manuscripts and the nation-wide discussion of the Manuscripts.

For additional information, send e-mail to math@union.edu or call (518) 388-6246.
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