Transforming People and Place: Shanghai’s “Educated Youth” on the Chinese Frontier, 1963 to 1981


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants




One hundred thousand middle and high school graduates from Shanghai were mobilized by the Chinese state to move to the frontier from 1963-1966. Known as Shanghai’s “educated youth," these adolescent men and women were sent to work on farms and factories in Xinjiang in far northwest China. Most would not return home until the era of Opening and Reform, and when they did, they were no longer known as “educated youth.” Having grown into adulthood, they became the “youth who had aided the border region." It is the history of this massive, urban-to-rural population transfer program—its underlying causes, the mechanics of its execution, the experiences of its participants, and its lasting legacies and impacts—which this dissertation project seeks to reveal.