How do ideas manifest outside of their place of origin, and how do they change once they do? The Emergence of Global Maoism: China’s Red Evangelism and the Cambodian Communist Movement, 1949–1979 (Cornell University Press, 2022) by Matthew Galway examines how ideological systems become localized, both in the indigenization of Marxism-Leninism by Mao Zedong and, more significantly, the indigenization of Maoism by the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Galway carefully investigates how Maoism was received, adapted, utilized, and ultimately rejected in Cambodia, examining in particular the different ways Paris-educated CPK leaders Pol Pot, Hou Yuon, and Hu Nim approached and interpreted Mao's writings and ideas. This intellectual history is wonderfully rich, theoretically grounded in Edward Said’s "traveling theory" model and filled with close readings of little-known, complex texts. The Emergence of Global Maoism is a necessary read for those interested in the history of modern China, Cambodia, and global Maoism, as well as for anyone who has ever wondered what a historian might do with an economics dissertation (the answer: see chapter four).
In addition to seeking out The Emergence of Global Maoism, interested listeners should also have a look at “Peasant Worker Communist Spy: A Chinese Intelligence Agent Looks Back at His Time in Cambodia,” a portrait of a CCP intelligence agent in Cambodia, as well as Experiments with Marxism-Leninism in Cold War Southeast Asia (ANU Press, 2022) edited by Matthew Galway and Marc H. Opper, with chapters on the adoption of Marxism in the Dutch East Indies, Maoism in the Philippines, and the Chinese Communist Party in Laos, among other fascinating case studies of experiments with Marxism-Leninism in Southeast Asia.
Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org