Inquiry: Homeless in the Maoist period

Hsuan-Ying Huang's picture

Dear colleagues, 

Recently I encountered an interedsting anectodte about the management of homeless mentally ill in the Maoist period in a collaborative oral history project. An informant reminisced that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the governemnt would remove the mentally ill from the streets and put them in the psychiatric hospitals before the Canton Fair. This struck me as odd since I am not aware of homelessness being an issue in the Maoist period, though similar measures are quite common in the recent post-reform decades. Coudl you point me to any research on this issue? 

Thanks very much! 

Hsuan-Ying Huang

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Categories: Query

Dear Hsuan-Ying (if I may),
There were definitely homeless/wandering people especially from the late 50s-early 60s, with the dislocation generated by the Leap. I mention children wandering into cities and scavenging for food in my paper on "hooligans" ( also happy to send you a copy if you like, please just email me directly). I'm sure others have seen other evidence attesting to similar patterns of migration and "vagrancy" around the same period.
All best,
-Yvon Wang.

Hi Hsuan-Ying,
I have a forthcoming co-authored piece that touches on this exact issue. I can send you the proofs. Feel free to reach out separately, as I'd be curious to know more about the oral history project.
Emily Baum