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Boundless revolution : global maoism and communist movements in southeast Asia, 1949-1979 Galway, Matthew


This dissertation argues that Chairman Mao Zedong’s written texts, his thought (毛澤東思想, Máo Zédōng Sīxiǎng), and the institutions that he envisioned and established in China formed an ideological system, which evolved through several stages until manifesting outside China. In relevant scholarship thus far, due attention has not been paid to the complex interplay between Maoism and the intellectual foundations of Communist movements in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The dissertation applies a theoretical framework that expands upon Edward Said’s concept of “Traveling Theory,” which outlines three principal conditions of production, transmission, and reception by introducing three subsidiary problems of reception, adaptation, and implementation to uncover how Maoism came to be and, subsequently, globalized. Philip Kuhn’s theory of the ideal socio-contextual “fit” of exogenous ideas allows us to uncover how one receives, interprets, and adapts exogenous ideas. Kenneth Jowitt’s understanding of Leninism allows us to understand the essentials of implementation, whereby an adapted theory is put into practice by a regime tinged by the outside ideology. By focusing on Said’s triad, we may approach the problems of reception of radical thought in Southeast Asia, its adaptation into different thought streams, and its implementation under Maoist or Marxist-Leninist courses. Radical intellectuals from these countries who became Communists were networked individuals within a situated thinking responding to crises by taking a radical turn. Their reception of radical thought led to the original idea’s transformation into a variant that was congruent with contemporary norms. As a genealogy of the social experiences and a close textual exegesis of political writings and pronouncements by the Cambodian Paris Group (Hou Yuon, Khieu Samphan, Hu Nim, and Saloth Sar), José Maria Sison, and Dipa Nusantara Aidit ultimately reveals, their reception of radical thought from outside their milieus was dialectical in nature. They spoke back, investing Maoism with new signification, without abandoning the universality of the original theory (its Russian or its Chinese accretions), which stood as an alternative global model for waging national revolution and socialist transformation. In this way, this empirical study contributes to a better understanding of radical thought.

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