Archives of Contemporary India

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R.L. MacFarquhar Papers

R.L. MacFarquhar Papers


" The cultural revolution was, above all, Mao's attempt to map out a different path for China. In that sense it represented the culmination of a lifetime of thinking about and working for the Chinese revolution."

R.L. MacFarquhar 

Roderick Lemonde MacFarquhar (b.1930-d.2019), a leading British scholar of modern China, politician and journalist, was born on 2 December 1930 at Lahore in undivided Punjab (now in Pakistan). He read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) at Keble College Oxford and completed an M.A. in Far Eastern Studies from Harvard in 1955, working with one of the pioneers of China Studies in the West, Professor John King Fairbank. 

Before joining academia, MacFarquhar worked as a journalist with the Daily Telegraph (1955-1961) and as the founding editor of China Quarterly (1959-1968), he helped establish it as the leading Western journal on developments in contemporary China. He served as a member of the British Parliament from Belper (1974-1979).

MacFarquhar joined Harvard University in 1984, where he went on to become the Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science. He was also the Director of the Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies at Harvard (1986-1992).

His remarkable scholarship set the standard for the writing of People’s Republic of China (PRC) history in general and the study of the Cultural Revolution in particular.

His major publications include The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals (1960), China under Mao (1966); the final two volumes of the Cambridge History of China (edited with the late John Fairbank) and a trilogy, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. His last major work was a jointly-authored book with Michael Schoenhals on the Cultural Revolution entitled Mao's Last Revolution (2006).

MacFarquhar passed away at the age of 88 on 10 February 2019.

About the collection: The papers of Roderick L. MacFarquhar (1930-2019) contain rare research material on 20th century Chinese history in English and Mandarin. This ranges from the history of the Chinese Communist Party, its party documents, the Cultural Revolution to Mao Zedong, Lin Piao, China’s relations with other countries, etc.  The collection contains pamphlets, booklets, studies, reports, correspondence and MacFarquhar’s writings including reprints of his articles published in the China Quarterly(Catalogue available)

Donor: Through Ashoka Library

Acquisition: 2023