Tributes to Roderick MacFarquhar (1930 – 2019)

We are sad to announce that our dear friend, colleague, and former Director Roderick MacFarquhar, Leroy B. Williams Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science at Harvard University, passed away on Sunday February 10, 2019.

Professor MacFarquhar originally came to Harvard to pursue a master’s degree in East Asian Studies, graduating in 1955, after which he returned to Harvard with a faculty appointment in the Department of Government in 1984. He was appointed Director of the Fairbank Center from 1986-1992 and again from 2005-2006.

Professor MacFarquhar was honored at a public memorial service at Harvard University on September 7, 2019, with tributes read by colleagues and close friends. Please click here to read tributes presented at the memorial service by William C Kirbyopens pdf file Elizabeth J Perryopens pdf file Huang Yasheng and Nancy Hearstopens pdf file , and Marty and Lincoln Chenopens pdf file 

Read about Professor MacFarquhar’s life in the New York Times (纽约时报中文), Washington PostSouth China Morning PostCaixinThe GuardianThe Financial TimesBoston GlobeLe MondeBBC 中文, and VOA 中文.

Click here to download a presentation of memories and photos from colleagues in China: 中国学者的追思和怀念(配乐自动播放版) .

In addition to the tributes read at Professor MacFarquhar’s public memorial service, other friends and colleagues have also shared their memories of Rod below.  

Remembrances from Colleagues


When Roderick MacFarquhar passed away on February 10, 2019, I was left with a deep regret: that our friendship had been too short.
“He can be very intimidating. Don’t be put off by it; it’s just a mannerism,” Nancy Hearst, the librarian at Harvard’s Fairbank Center, warned me before taking me to meet him for the first time.

I had under my arm the manuscript of the memoir of Zhao Ziyang, the deceased former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, ousted in 1989 for refusing to carry out the military crackdown of the protesters in Tiananmen Square. I had planned to publish it to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests, and I wanted MacFarquhar to write an introduction for the English version, which would be published as Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang.

When Nancy brought my wife and me to his modestly-sized office in Harvard’s Department of Government, he was already standing in front of his desk.

Before I could go far into the material I had prepared for him, he abruptly stopped me. “So, why me?” he asked. Nancy was right, he was extremely blunt. “There are many scholars who know much more about this than I do: Andrew Nathan was involved in the Tiananmen Papers, Joseph Fewsmith knows every detail of Reform . . .” He continued on and on, giving a veritable who’s who of scholars of reform-era China.

I told him why: “I believe a person with a deep understanding of the Cultural Revolution stands the best chance of truly understanding Zhao Ziyang, the reformer.”

He paused, but not for long before saying, “My impression is that Zhao was just Deng Xiaoping’s sidekick. In fact, that would make a great title: ‘Zhao Ziyang, Deng Xiaoping’s Sidekick’!” My heart sank.
“But I am happy to change my mind if I see evidence to the contrary,” he finished.

Afterwards, Nancy tried to convince me that my patience would be rewarded, so I left the manuscript for him, still full of doubt. I couldn’t know that this is how we would begin a close friendship of 10 years.

A few months later, I translated Rod’s introduction into Chinese, and read it to one of Zhao’s sons. To my great surprise, the dispassionate text elicited an uncontrollable flow of tears. Someone finally understood his father for who he really was, despite his having been almost erased from history.

“Today in China, Zhao is a nonperson,” Rod had written. “In a less paranoid time in the future, perhaps he will be seen as one in that honored line of Chinese officials down the ages who worked hard and well for their country, but fell foul of the ruling authorities. Their names remain inspirational, long after the names of their venal opponents have been forgotten.”

The successful publication of Zhao’s memoir owed much to MacFarquhar’s introduction (which was included in both the English and Chinese versions). But for him, this was a footnote late in an already monumental career. His greatest scholarly achievement was something else: the study of the Cultural Revolution, as presented in his dense three-volume work, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution.

MacFarquhar was born in 1930 in Lahore, the son of a British Raj civil administrator. He was fluent in Hindi and had fond and lasting memories of his childhood in what was then India. After graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Keble College, Oxford University in 1953, he went on to obtain a Master’s degree from Harvard University in Far Eastern Regional Studies in 1955. His first career was as a journalist, writing for The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph from 1955 to 1961, and reporting for BBC’s Panorama from 1963 to 1965.

It was, he told me, as a journalist that he became fascinated with the turmoil of the 1950’s as the Cold War was beginning to take form. “At the time, there were many well established journalists and scholars studying the Soviet Union, but not China,” he once explained. In 1953, Gao Gang, a Communist leader during the Chinese Civil War, mysteriously fell from the highest echelons of Communist Party leadership, and it intrigued him. This was the beginning of what would become a lifelong career as a China specialist, in journalism and in academia.
While his English accent remained on the posh side, Rod’s political views were center-left, mainly with the Labour Party. His attempt at launching a political career was met with only moderate success. After two losses in 1966 and 1968, in the 1974 general elections he won a seat as an MP for the Labour Party representing the Belper constituency. The decisive victory of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party in 1979 almost finished his political career, yet, he tried again in 1983, unsuccessfully.

“As a Labour MP with no inherited wealth, if you lose, you need to find a job,” he once said half-jokingly about how he ended up in academia. Indeed, history is littered with those who aspire to politics but are never granted the chance, among them Confucius, Machiavelli, and Max Weber.

Luckily for us, Roderick MacFarquhar also launched into a career that had him theorizing, documenting, and teaching, sharing his profound insights and analysis of politics with all. He was Founding Editor of The China Quarterly, was Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, and taught History and Political Science at Harvard for 28 years.

His academic career was centered on his relentless interest in modern China. When he published his first of the three volumes of The Origins of the Cultural Revolution in 1974, two years before the Cultural Revolution ended, he had already traced the 1966 cataclysm back to events in the tumultuous year of 1956, a remarkable understanding he gained just by reading everything he could find about China, which back then was mostly official state media.

Already, he had discovered the key to unlocking the ultimate mystery of the origins of the Cultural Revolution. His findings, he told me, surprised even himself: Of Mao Zedong’s pre-1949 revolutionary colleagues, not even one whole-heartedly supported Mao’s idea of “Continuous Revolution.” He documented how Mao, with seeming omnipotence, had crushed every one of his colleagues into submission, leading the country into a tragedy of monumental proportions.

In my view, MacFarquhar’s genius was not just in being the first to lay out a foundation for an understanding of the Mao era. What is so remarkable about his work is his depth of understanding on a subject most find incomprehensible, leading to conclusions that are contrary to common wisdom. For Rod, the Cultural Revolution was not a byproduct of Communist ideology or Stalinist institutions. It was caused by Mao, and by Mao’s insistence on his own ideas in opposition to his revolutionary colleagues who embraced Communist ideology and loved Stalinist state institutions and all the privileges that came with them, all of which Mao hated. In the end he failed, and his colleagues prevailed.

In fact, in The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, MacFarquhar never states this as a final conclusion, nor does he state clearly what the “origins” are. But he does give an abundance of evidence to allow the reader to come to this conclusion. To my surprise, Origins continues to draw criticism from some academics and general readers who feel a need to attribute the Cultural Revolution to authoritarianism.
After the successful publication of Zhao’s journal, I visited MacFarquhar again at his Harvard office. I decided to ask him the question that had been on my mind for many years. ”On various occasions, you summed up the era as ‘Mao against everyone else.’ Why didn’t you write this in your book, to make a very clear conclusion?”

His face lit up, the way it did when he was suddenly interested. “Because no one would have believed me!” He smiled at me. I could see what he meant: How could anyone believe, in 1974, that every senior Communist leader in China was against Mao Zedong?

I will always remember that smile, because from that moment, we became very close friends. Two years later, in the summer of 2012, I published the complete three-volume set of The Origins of the Cultural Revolution in Chinese for the first time in its entirety.

My wife and I visited Rod last summer at his house in New Hampshire, surrounded by the garden his late wife Emily created and his current wife Dalena Wright has continued to tend. It’s a house with quite a bit of history itself, with a large airy drawing room with creaking wooden floorboards where guests are entertained. Books can be found in every room, though a separate building converted from a barn houses an impressive personal library. A hanging clock chimes the hours, like London’s Big Ben.

When I came down from our guest bedroom one morning into the newest section of the house, the renovated kitchen, Rod was already preparing breakfast.
“Can I do anything to help?” I asked.
“No, you cannot.”
“Why not?”
“Because you are my guest.”
As I watched his slow and constant stirring of scrambled eggs, French style, he said, with lots of cream and butter, I returned to a topic from the night before, Khrushchev’s secret speech of 1956.

“We can all agree that it marked the beginning of the decline of the communist movement worldwide. But I still don’t understand why. Wasn’t Khrushchev doing the right thing by correcting Stalin’s mistake?”

“Hang on a second, I need more cream.” He went to fetch cream from the large refrigerator behind him and returned to continue his patient stirring.

“The reason is that the Soviet regime was only ‘leadership friendly’ and not much more.”
“Hah, that’s interesting!”

His casual remark gave me profound insight into the nature of the Leninist state: that the power of such a state depends on the leader’s absolute command of loyalty and thus his ability to mobilize all social resources.

I picked up an empty wine bottle with a stained label, “Pétrus 1961,” from a collection of empty bottles on the counter nearby.
“So, of all the students you have taught, who is your favorite?”

“I wouldn’t tell you if I had one!” He smiled. “But I will tell you the story about that bottle of wine.”

“When Emily passed away, I realized suddenly how short life is. Instead of ‘saving’ these great wines, I gathered the children and one by one, we drank all the best in my collection. We should enjoy living while we can. This bottle,” he pointed to the bottle in my hand, “I bought when I visited the Château Pétrus in the late 1960s. I asked and paid for a 1960, but when I later unwrapped it, I found they had given me a 1961, a celebrated year I couldn’t afford!”

“Well, what happened? Did someone mistakenly pull a bottle from the wrong rack? After all, 1961 is right next to 1960, right?” I laughed.
He smiled, “I would rather believe someone was intentionally being good to me.”

Roderick MacFarquhar, an extraordinary man, leaves behind him a light of wisdom and gracefulness that will always shine on the paths of those who knew him, and those who read his work.


欧阳斌: 2010年我负复哈佛,当时麦克法夸尔是我的学术导师。收到通知,便应立即与导师约见。第一次见面,
编者按: 2 月10 日,历史学、政治学家、哈佛大学费正清研究中心前主任罗德里克·
麦克法夸尔(Roderick MacFarquhar, 汉名马若德)因病逝世,享年88 岁。麦克法夸尔在当代中国研究领域的系列著作,包括《《文化大革命的起源〉〉、与费正清共同主编的《《剑桥中华人民共和国史〉〉等,在学术界和社会中拥有巨大影响力。本文是欧阳斌先生撰写的缅怀文章。”You are a refugee!” (“你是未逃难的。”)听完我的自我介绍,先生带着特有的微笑对我说。

2010年,我负艾哈佛,当时麦克法考尔是我的学术导师。收到通知,便应立即与导师约见。我当时颇为头痛,因为他的姓氏(MacFarquhar) 实在是不好发音,而我又心执中国传统师生之礼,实在无法像美国同学那样,对白发的先生直呼其名”Rod” 。

裴宜理先生颇是教了我几遍,然后微笑着跟我说,去吧,没事儿。笫一次见面,不免紧张,先生是欧美学术界里共和国史研究领域的泰山北斗,而他本人也是历史的一部分。1961 年蒙哥马利访华之前拜会先生,先生说问问毛泽
东接班人问题。结果毛借此机会笫一次对外表态,自己的接班人是刘少奇,"刘少奇之后的事我不管" 。见先生自然是要自我介绍,我说我曾经做过记者之后,先生脱口而出上面那句玩笑。

先生也曾当过记者,还做过英国议员,甚至在他的成名之作《《文化大革命的起源〉> 第一卷已经出版之后,他仍然没有想过要走治学这条路。他曾对我说, 1955 年,他在费正清创办的哈佛大学东亚系读硕士,费正清对寥寥四五个学生说,中国有一种占据心思的魔力。先生当时还在台下默默说“那也不会是我。“结果毕业之后,在费正清的鼓励下,先生将<《文化大革命的起源〉> 进行删减,拿到博士学位,亦走上学术道路。


先生主持的研究生课,颇有夫子论道的样子。每周下午,先生都会端着一杯咖啡走进教室,然后就上周的阅读内容开始跟我们"聊天” 。一次课三四个小时,全班十四个学生,先生经常会冷不丁请你谈谈对某一段史实的看法,或者前后索引一下证据。氛围很轻松,但实际上这个“天”聊下来的强度还是很大。先生有着浓重的英国口音,如果不认真听,有的时候会跟不上。有一次,他提问一个韩国同学,结果这位同学说”因为你的口音,我没听懂。“此言一出,场面无不尴尬,我们面面相觑。结果先生微微一笑说:“我没有口音,这些美国人才有口音。”


先生于我的教诲,除了言传,还有身教。先生课程结束时要求上交一篇至少20 页的论文。记得我们论文交上去没有几周便批下未。我的论文先生不仅很仔细地写了评语,连脚注也是圈圈点点。其中有一处脚注的一个逗号先生画了个圈。我仔细看过才发现,原来我引用的是中文史才十,在敲完中文书名之后,这个逗号没有改成英文输入法,故看上去多出半个字符。

毕业的时候我拿着一本<《文化大革命的起源〉) ,请先生签字留念。先生欣然签字,但是非常认真地跟我说:“我当时写这本书的时候,史朴非常匮乏,现在你看这本书要带着批判的眼光,这里面有些东西已经不准确了。”

Fan Shitao 范世涛


麦克法夸尔(Roderick MacFarquhar,1930-2019)出身英国贵族家庭。1953年毕业于牛津大学,获文学学士学位;1955年,获哈佛大学远东区域研究硕士学位;1981年获伦敦政治经济学院政治学博士学位。他是英国著名中国研究杂志《中国季刊》创刊主编。1974年至1979年他为英国议会下院议员。


《文化大革命的起源》(The Origins of the Cultural Revolution)合计三卷,近1700页,是标准的学术巨著。写作历时甚久。第一卷和第二卷出版于1974年和1983年,第三卷出版于1997年。正如书名所示,作者并不认为 “文革”的起源是单一的,但认为这些起源中,1956年所发生的两件大事最为重要:中国社会主义改造的完成和苏共二十大的召开。“文革”其实是这两件大事所引起的一系列事件的最终结果。在此主题下,三卷著作对于1956-1966年间大事小事有细密的观察和评论。

《文化大革命的起源》第一部出版时, “文化大革命”仍在继续,中国尚不具备研究“文革”的条件。所以,麦克法夸尔教授将“文革”最重要的起源置于1956年,可谓开创性意见。大陆改革开放后,处理“文革”历史遗产成为无可回避的现实问题。在中央领导的直接领导和关心下,经过广泛的讨论和反复斟酌,1981年中共十一届六中全会通过《关于建国以来党的若干历史问题的决议》。这一重要文件也视1956年为关键年份。这份文件起草过程不大可能参考麦克法夸尔教授的书,但这种不约而同表明,麦克法夸尔教授1974年的创见有其深度和洞察力。

不过,由于三卷书出版时间前后相差23年,质量也就不那么平衡,其中第三卷资料来源最为丰富,学术见解也更为成熟,在三部曲中最为重要。这部著作出版不久,即于1999年获列文森奖。汉语学界也公认此书为当代中国研究力作。比较而言,《文化大革命的起源》的前两卷则尚未达到理想状态,中共党史专家胡绳先生称之为“臆测颇多”。但这两卷反而在中国广为流传,影响最大。原因是求实出版社和河北人民出版社在八十年代末和九十年代初先后推出两种译本,读者无数。当时中国尚未加入国际版权公约组织,两种译本的中译和出版事先并未征得作者的同意。在费正清之后,海外中国研究专家有了一个不成文的传统,即根据自己的姓名音译为一个地道的中文姓名。麦克法夸尔教授其实有自己的中文名字“马若德”,“若德”对应Rod,“马”则来自 MacFarquhar,可说与“费正清”一样优雅得体的中文名字。但由于《文化大革命的起源》前两卷的中译本均将作者写为“麦克法夸尔”而不是“马若德”,“麦克法夸尔”在大陆的名声也就比“马若德”大得多。这是前两卷中译本流传的一个意外后果。



以英文在哈佛大学课堂上讲授中国的“文化大革命”,会遇到形形色色的困难,其中一个困难就是缺乏现成的教科书。于是,麦克法夸尔教授与学生一起,筛选文献,择其要者翻译为英文,印发出来供学生们参考。为了解决教科书的问题,他还放弃了继续《文化大革命的起源》那样的鸿篇巨著写作计划,与瑞典学者沈迈克(Michael Schoenhals)合作,2006年完成了《毛泽东最后的革命》(Mao’s Last Revolution)一书。这本书至今为止还是国际上通行最广的“文革”通史教科书,在短期之内看不到有其他著作能够代替这部书。


《毛泽东最后的革命》旁征博引,广泛利用了汉语文献成果。这与另外一位作者沈迈克的贡献分不开。沈曾与麦克法夸尔教授共同主持哈佛大学的“中国文化大革命”课程,能够直接用中文写作摆弄修辞的文章,阅读中文文献更没有障碍。因此,两位作者通力合作,提高了这部著作的质量。在汉语文献中,国防大学王年一(1932-2007)教授的思想贡献最为重要。王先生是中国 “文革”研究的开拓者和世界级权威,他在1988年出版了《大动乱的年代》一书,直到现在还在不断重印,是大陆了解“文革”的首要读本。麦克法夸尔教授曾邀请王年一教授客座访问哈佛大学,王先生想去而终于因为种种原因未能成行。他为准备《大动乱的年代》英文本,按照国际学术规范对全书进行了精心修订补充。麦克法夸尔和沈迈克教授在写作《毛泽东最后的革命》时,使用了王年一先生修订《大动乱的年代》一书的手稿。而大陆由于出版方面的原因,在重印《大动乱的年代》时,反而没有能够使用王年一先生的大量修订,大体上只是初版本的重印。


麦克法夸尔曾两次出任哈佛大学费正清中国研究中心主任。麦克法夸尔教授在任内发起专门项目,帮助初到海外的中国人适应美国的生活。对此,薛龙(Ronald Suleski)在《哈佛大学费正清中心五十年史》(The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University: a Fifty Year History, 1955-2005)一书对此有简明扼要的记载。薛龙曾担任费正清中心的主任助理,这本书系个人著作,但大量访问当事人,广泛使用哈佛大学档案,所以有费正清中心“官方史”之称。这样来说,麦克法夸尔教授以正直和善意帮助中国人的业绩也是“正史有载”的。在访问过哈佛大学的中国学者中,很多人得到他的教育和帮助,有口皆碑,当不为过。




2月10日,哈佛大学著名历史学家和政治学家马若德(Roderick MacFarquhar)因病去世。作为世界上最知名的汉学家之一,马若德先生生前的主要研究方向是中华人民共和国历史。他的离世对于学术界是一个巨大的损失。



2月10日,哈佛大学著名的历史学家和政治学家罗德里克·麦克法夸尔(Roderick MacFarquhar)因病去世。麦克法夸尔先生因其对中华人民共和国历史的研究成就而备受尊敬,而他也还有一个更让中国学者熟悉的中文名字——马若德。在我看来,像马若德先生这样关注历史细节的传统学者对于当下的社会学科学界是十分珍贵且重要的,他的离世对于学术界是一个巨大的损失。


我最后一次见马若德先生是在一年前,我和现任克莱蒙特·麦肯纳学院(Claremont Mckenna College)政治学教授裴敏欣在我家里为他共同组织了一次晚宴。 晚宴上,老先生谈笑风生,他的思维如此敏锐,像我和敏欣在学生时代的状态。 晚宴上,我们回忆了很多我们和马若德先生相处的故事。


马若德先生是一位有着过人记忆力和丰厚学术积淀、思维敏锐、踏实勤奋的优秀前辈学者。在哈佛求学期间,我没有上过马若德先生的课,我和他的紧密接触始于1988年,那年,我担任了他文革历史课的首席教学助理(Head Teaching Assistant)。这门课在哈佛的课程代码是“外国文化48”(Foreign Culture 48)。作为首席教学助理,我不仅仅要负责主持学生的小组讨论,更要承担很多课程相关的行政管理和流程,相当于这个课程的一个“经理”。

现在活跃在美国新闻界的很多知名记者,比如纽约时报的主编,都上过这门课。那年,这门课的学生选课人数超过了当时哈佛最受欢迎的入门经济学课——“经济学10” (Econ 10),达到了1000人左右。在我的记忆里,哈佛很少有课程的选课人数会达到1000人左右。“经济学10”算一个,马若德先生的 “外国文化48”算一个,之后政治学教授迈克尔·桑德尔(Michael J. Sander)的正义课也算一个。


还有一件趣事可以证明马若德先生过人的记忆力和对细节的关注。有一次我去马若德先生家里吃饭,聊到了中华人民共和国的开国将军贺龙的出生地。我和当时另一名做客的哈佛同学、现任北京大学政治经济和公共政策教授傅军, 很随便的说了一句,“贺龙是湖北人。”然而,马若德先生当时立马纠正道,贺龙应该是湖南人,但我和傅军坚持认为贺龙是湖北人。对于当时的我和傅军来说,对贺龙的印象就是停留在电影《洪湖赤卫队》和那首脍炙人口的歌曲《洪湖水浪打浪》的层面上。随后,马若德先生专门上楼找出了一本人名大辞典,我们看过后,确实发现贺龙是湖南人。




马若德先生记忆力惊人、学术积淀深厚,他对不是他的研究领域也充满了好奇心和敏锐的观察。在我撰写博士论文的时候,我邀请了马若德先生进入了我的论文的导师审核组。我在论文中用到了一些统计方法和模型。当我将论文拿给马若德先生咨询意见时,作为一名历史学家,马若德先生却可以围绕我的统计发现和变量解释提出一些非常细致的问题。还有一件事情可以证明马若德先生敏锐的思维,在一些哈佛的论坛讲座上, 马若德先生在聆听讲座的过程中总是闭着双眼,感觉是在闭目养神休息。然而,每当演讲人结束演讲接受提问时,马若德先生总是可以第一个提问,并且问题有深度且一针见血。




美国作家马克·吐温说过:“历史不会重演,但总会有惊人的相似。”(“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”)历史的细节对于我们了解当下的世界和当下的中国十分重要。马若德先生是一名杰出的历史学家,他的离世是学术界的一个巨大损失,尤其是研究中国问题的学术圈。像马若德先生这样可以持之以恒,围绕一段特殊历史时期,坚持挖掘历史细节进行分析的传统学者是十分可贵的。



With the passing of Harvard University Professor Emeritus Roderick MacFarquhar, international China Studies has lost a true giant in the field, and the SOAS community has lost an esteemed colleague and cherished friend of many decades. In its obituary, The Telegraph (for whom he was once a staff writer), fittingly described him as “a man of charm, courage, and sincerity… the ultimate internationalist.”[1] Professor MacFarquhar died at 88 in a Cambridge, Massachusetts hospital from congestive heart failure on February 10, 2019.

Ties to SOAS
Rod’s main tie to SOAS was linked to the field’s flagship journal The China Quarterly. Rod was the founding editor of the journal, which was launched with the January-March 1960 issue (as I hold that issue in hand the cover reads succinctly: No. 1, Five Shillings). In his editorial introduction to the inaugural issue, MacFarquhar presciently observed: “The present fact of Chinese power is sufficient justification for launching this journal. We cannot afford to wait for the Chinese to send a Sputnik into orbit before realizing that China would repay closer study.”[2]The CQ operated for its first eight years, as he later described it, as “somewhat of a guerilla operation,” “located first in an aerie in Langham Place (Summit House) and then in grottier quarters off Oxford Street.”[3] But by 1968 Rod “decided it needed the trappings of solidity which only an academic base could provide. With the projected creation of the Contemporary China Institute (CCI) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS was the obvious place for the journal to go.”[4] The late and eminent SOAS Sinologist Stuart Schram, Professor of Politics with Reference to China in the University of London, was setting up the CCI,[5] and he was welcoming of MacFarquhar’s entreaties. The deal was done and the formal transfer of the journal’s operations to SOAS and the CCI (the forerunner to today’s SOAS China Institute) took place in March 1968.

But editing the CQ was hardly MacFarquhar’s only occupation at the time. From 1955-1961 he was a journalist on staff of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, he maintained an affiliation with St. Antony’s at Oxford (where he commuted regularly), and he ran a monthly China luncheon discussion group at Chatham House (which became the staple for Asia hands in London—drawing together the worlds of academe, media, corporates, diplomats, and the intelligence services). Moreover, in the 1966 general election MacFarquhar successively contested and won the Labour seat from East Ealing. Despite these other demands on his time, he continued to devote the necessary time to editing the CQ. Yet, the multiple pressures on him were building and Rod knew that it was a time for a transition—so he persuaded his friend and fellow Keble College alum David Wilson (Baron Wilson of Tillyorn), to leave the FCO and succeed him as CQ editor.

Thus, although MacFarquhar “midwifed” the CQ transition to SOAS and the CCI at the time, he did not actually himself join the SOAS staff in 1968. However, a decade later in 1978, MacFarquhar did become a SOAS Governor. Rod maintained his ties to SOAS for many years thereafter. Professor Schram was a close colleague and friend, whom Rod brought to Harvard following Stuart’s retirement from SOAS in 1989. He was also a close friend and colleague of Professors Christopher Howe, Hugh Baker, Ken Walker, Robert Ash, Elizabeth Croll, and other China studies luminaries on the SOAS faculty.

When I was fortunately offered the position of Lecturer in Chinese Politics in 1987, Rod was one of the first persons I consulted about the pros and cons of accepting the position and moving to London—he was resolutely encouraging and persuasive, even providing advice on West Hampstead neighborhoods where to search for a flat. It was a decision I will never regret and have Rod to thank in part for it. When Rod subsequently passed through London he would often take me out for a meal and chat. Then in 1991, when I was appointed as the sixth editor of The China Quarterly, I recall a lengthy dinner discussion with Rod at a Soho restaurant, at which he imparted sage advice for navigating in my new position. This included the institutions and personalities in the China field around the world, as the position demands such ties. Rod was very “paternal” when it came to “his baby” The China Quarterly, and unfailingly supportive. In 1995 I decided to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the CQ’s founding and invited the previous five editors (Rod, David Wilson, John Gittings, Dick Wilson, and Brian Hook) to join in a wonderful commemorative event at SOAS.[6] My successor, Julia Strauss, now Professor of Chinese Politics at SOAS and the ninth editor of the CQ, convened a similar event on the special occasion of the 50th anniversary of the CQ. Again, all the former editors converged on Russell Square and Rod flew across the Atlantic from Harvard and contributed an article (“On Liberation”) to the commemorative issue.[7] 

Thus, while his only official tie to SOAS was his stint on the Governing Body during the late-1970s, Professor MacFarquhar had longstanding ties to the institution and many who have worked there. If it were not for him, one of the School’s most significant attributes (The China Quarterly) would never have materialized.

An Extraordinary Life & Career
Roderick MacFarquhar was born in Lahore in British colonial India, where his father served in the Colonial Service and the Indian Civil Service. In his teens, young Rod was sent off to Edinburgh, where he attended Fettes College. After graduation he served his national service as a second lieutenant in a tank regiment in Egypt and Jordan. After returning to England he entered Keble College, Oxford where he earned a PPE undergraduate degree in 1953.
At this time in his life he sensed that there were major events and puzzles unfolding in Asia (a.k.a. the Far East), as a result of the communist revolution in China, the outbreak of the Korean War, and unfolding national independence movements in Southeast Asia. But he was particularly interested in the changes emerging in communist China. So off he went to America, enlisting in the newly opened Master’s program in Far Eastern Regional Studies at Harvard, under the direction of Professors John King Fairbank and Edwin O. Reischauer. MacFarquhar completed the M.A. degree in 1955, but Fairbank would become his lifelong mentor and colleague—ultimately asking him to co-edit and take over the seminal Cambridge History of China.

From there, MacFarquhar’s professional life took several twists and turns. He first returned to London and was appointed the China correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, which he did from 1955-1961. He then moved to the BBC’s Panorama television programme for two years from 1963-1965, before entering politics. He stood for election four times, winning twice (1966, 1974) and losing twice (1968, 1979). His time in Parliament included stints as Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Minister of State for the FCO (David Ennals), and member of the Select Committee on Science & Technology. During this busy time in his life, Rod continued to “moonlight” in journalism, as a co-presenter for the BBC World Service’s “24 Hours,” remained involved with Chatham House, and spent time as a visiting senior research fellow at Columbia University in New York (then the leading location for the study of the communist world). Rod’s transatlantic ties were cemented with leading American academics and officials.

MacFarquhar’s orientation increasingly inclined towards academe and his fascination remained with China. Having earned a doctorate from the LSE and having several significant books under his belt by the mid-1980s, he was recruited to join the Harvard faculty as Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Government in 1984. There, he served as Director of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research from 1986-1992 and again from 2005-2006, as well as chairing the Government Department from 1998-2004. MacFarquhar was a highly skilled academic infighter and institution builder. Rod was a real cornerstone at Harvard. He was a regular participant in public lectures, luncheon seminars, and other events. Although he was regularly on campus, and had enormous administrative responsibilities, amazingly he remained extraordinarily productive as a scholar and writer. He single-authored, co-authored, and edited multiple volumes, and wrote frequent articles for the New York Review of Books. His trilogy The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, which chronicled China’s political evolution from 1949-1966, will never be surpassed. His Mao’s Last Revolution (co-authored with Swedish scholar Michael Schoenhals) is similarly definitive. His textbook The Politics of China, now in its third edition, remains the staple in courses on the subject.

MacFarquhar’s scholarship was distinguished by its extraordinary precision and meticulousness. His footnotes were as noteworthy as his texts. He wrote as he spoke—with great precision. He was a riveting speaker, exceptionally articulate and normally speaking without any notes or text (occasionally a rough outline of a few points scribbled on a napkin or slip of paper). This reflected a steel-trap memory and amazing recall. But, both as a writer and a public speaker, he always told and wove together a good story. Politics was similar to Shakespearian theater for him—and he brought all the characters and their plots alive. When it came to studying China he was not a normal Sinologist, never being particularly attracted by the culture (“I was never drawn to Ming vases” he would say). For MacFarquhar, it was the internecine Hobbesian struggles among ruthless Chinese communist leaders that fascinated him the most. The canon of his life’s works are an encyclopedia of these epic struggles. While fascinated by these struggles—or perhaps because of them—he remained unemotional and clinical in his analyses. His broad view of China’s body politic was that it was riddled by a cancer of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and his prognoses followed from his diagnoses, i.e. he was solidly of the view, particularly post-1989, that the CCP’s days were numbered…and he was not afraid to say so. This was not a man afraid to speak truth to power. This standpoint did not endear him to the Chinese party-state, which ambivalently held him at an arms’ length yet permitted him to visit China (something he did not do all that often).

Personal Qualities
I conclude this memorial essay for my esteemed departed colleague by recalling some of his personal qualities. Rod was extremely erudite, deeply educated and knowledgeable about so many things, and was worldly, charming, gentlemanly, intellectually engaging and probing, a good listener, and possessed of sharp wit and sarcastic humor. He was a devoted husband and father, and a friend to many. He shall be greatly missed by many. All of those in the SOAS community and beyond have lost a rare individual.[1] 
[2] Roderick MacFarquhar, “Editorial,” The China Quarterly, No. 1 (January-March 1960), p. 2.
[3] Roderick MacFarquhar, “The Founding of The China Quarterly,” No. 143 (September 1995), p. 695.
[4] Ibid.
[5] The CCI was established with seed funding from the U.S. Ford Foundation (which was providing $30 million in funding to establish numerous China studies centers in the United States—SOAS and the ANU were the only non-American institutions to receive such start-up funding).
[6] Our respective recollections of our times as editors appeared in issue No. 143 (September 1995)
[7] The China Quarterly, No. 200 (December 2009).


Professor MacFarquhar was a great figure, perhaps the greatest one, in my intellectual and professional development. When I was an undergraduate wiling away my summer in Asia, I read the first two volumes of Origins. Even then, I was struck by his skillful weaving of participant recollection, party documents, and observations of diplomats into seamless accounts of the typically opaque elite politics of China. Needless to say, that style of writing has become a model in my own works. Most importantly for me, throughout his books, he consistently asked the question “why would a wily survivor of brutal internal party politics make this decision at this juncture?” This has become the guiding question in my own works. I was in intellectual heaven when I got to debate this question weekly with him and other like-minded China scholars in the “Chinese authors” class in graduate school. Scenes of intense discussion still flash before my eyes whenever I see mentions of some of the authors’ we had read in the class—Li Rui, Bo Yibo,and of course Mao himself. I will sorely miss his incisive comments, dry wit, and encouragement, which he continued to provide generously even after I had graduated from Harvard.



(北京 清华大学哲学系)

得知罗德里克·麦克法夸尔教授(Roderick MacFarquhar)病逝的消息,我非常难过,非常痛惜!麦克法夸尔教授的去世,不仅是哈佛大学乃至全世界的“中国研究”学界的一大损失,更是一切真正有志于反思和研究“文化大革命”历史的学术同仁们的一大损失!


自从1998年10月,我荣幸地出席了北京大学授予麦克法夸尔教授“北京大学荣誉教授”的仪式暨学术演讲会后,我与麦克法夸尔教授的友谊长达二十年之久,他对我的指导和鼓励、对我的帮助和启示,令我终生受益。特别值得提及的是,我2002—2003年作为哈佛大学燕京学社访问学者时, 曾于2003年1月至5月几乎每周都聆听一次麦克法夸尔教授给近300位学生讲授的“文革历史”一课,他的讲授风格和讲课魅力,他对中国文化的独到体悟和融会贯通,他对文革历史的审视和把握,特别是他对文革众多问题的鞭辟入里的评析和对文革诸多人物的入木三分的评价,等等,都给我留下了终生难忘的印象。

麦克法夸尔教授所著的《文化大革命的起源》和他与沈迈克教授(Michael Schoenhals)合著的《毛泽东最后的革命》(我是这部著作的中文译本校对者)已经成为整个世界范围的追溯和研究文革历史的扛鼎之作。前一著作尽管是在文革结束之前写的,但它是第一部研究文革起源问题的专著。虽然这部著作还主要局限于中国领导人的政策分歧和斗争之界域来谈文革的起源,也就是说对于文革起源的“草根层面”或“草根问题”的揭示似有不足,但是这部著作毕竟非常客观而又详实地、深刻而又直切展现了在文革的由来问题上中国领导人的思想脉络的分化和政策取向的分离。后一著作已成为迄今为止的西方世界评述文革整个历史(即“文革通史”)的代表作。麦克法夸尔教授对于文革研究或文革历史的探讨和揭示所具有的意义和影响是什么呢?正如1970年代末至1980年代初,中国学界流行一句话:“敦煌在中国,‘敦煌学’在国外”,“敦煌学”即在当时的日本(现今,“敦煌学”的中心已回归中国了);可以说,大致上1980年代到21世纪初,“文革在中国,‘文革学’在国外”。在国外的哪里呢?在美利坚合众国;具体地说,在哈佛大学;更具体地说,在麦克法夸尔教授那里!









麦克法夸尔教授2003年在中国讲学时,曾介绍过他研究当代中国问题的“铁三角结构”理论。他认为:1949年中国建立的新的政治制度,是一个有别于民主国家的三角形政治结构体系。三角的一边是中共各级组织系统,另一边是毛主义的意识形态,底边是军队和警察组成的强力部门。它们构成了严密地控制着全部社会活动的“铁三角”结构。在三角结构的最上方是具有最高权威的毛泽东。“文革” 严重破坏了“铁三角”的社会控制力,虽然后来进行了修复,但控制力已大不如前。中国的改革开放,解构了毛主义意识形态,“铁三角”的专政体制发生了裂变,从而使一个正常社会开始成长起来了。然而,中国政治体制改革的滞后,又带来了社会转型的不确定性。但可以确定的是,“铁三角”的社会控制结构是不可能再重新建构起来了。中国政治民主化的社会转型是社会历史发展大趋势,已经生长起来的社会是很难再装回笼子里的。