Roderick MacFarquhar

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Roderick Lemonde MacFarquhar (born 2 December 1930) is a Harvard University professor and China specialist, British politician, newspaper and television journalist and academic orientalist. He served briefly as a Member of Parliament.

Family and early life[edit]

MacFarquhar is the son of Sir Alexander MacFarquhar, a member of the Indian Civil Service and later a senior diplomat at the United Nations where he eventually became Under Secretary for Personnel.

He was born in Lahore, British India and educated at the leading Scottish public school, Fettes College.

Academic and journalistic career[edit]

After spending part of his national service from 1949 to 1950 in Egypt and Jordan as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Tank Regiment, he went up to Keble College, Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, obtaining a BA in 1953. He then went on to obtain a Master's degree from Harvard University in Far Eastern Regional Studies in 1955.

He worked as a journalist on the staff of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph from 1955 to 1961 specialising in China, and also reported for BBC television Panorama from 1963 to 1964. He was editor of China Quarterly from 1959 to 1968, and a non-resident Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 he was a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University in New York City, and in 1971 he returned to England to hold a similar fellowship at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He was also the founding co-presenter of BBC World Service "24 Hours" in 1971.

Political career[edit]

In the 1966 general election, MacFarquhar fought the Ealing South constituency for the Labour Party but failed to dislodge the sitting Conservative MP. Two years later, he was Labour candidate who attempted to retain the Meriden seat in a by-election; he was on the wrong end of an 18.4% swing at the height of the Wilson government's unpopularity.

Following the defeat of George Brown in 1970 and favourable boundary changes, MacFarquhar was selected to fight the Belper constituency, and at the February 1974 general election succeeded in winning the seat from its sitting Conservative MP Geoffrey Stewart-Smith. Although he won, there was an estimated swing of 4% to the Conservatives had the same boundaries applied in the previous election.

MacFarquhar proved a moderate figure, in line with Brown's views. He abstained on a vote to remove the disqualification of left-wing Labour councillors in Clay Cross who had broken council housing laws enacted by the previous Conservative government. However there were exceptions: he also abstained on a vote to increase the Civil list payments on 26 February 1975. He acted as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to David Ennals, a minister of the state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and retained the job when Ennals was promoted to be Secretary of State for Social Services. He was made a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

After Parliament[edit]

In 1978 MacFarquhar resigned his office as PPS after voting against the Government. In that year, he became a Governor of the School of Oriental and African Studies, a University of London constituent body. The post gave him a job which he could do if he lost his seat. In the 1979 general election, MacFarquhar did indeed lose by 800 votes, and returned to academia and broadcasting (returning to "24 Hours" for a year).

He remained involved in politics and his moderate beliefs made him increasingly uncomfortable in the Labour Party: on 22 October 1981 he announced that he had joined the Social Democratic Party. He fought the South Derbyshire seat, which contained most of then-abolished Belper, for the SDP in the 1983 general election, and nearly succeeded in beating the Labour candidate, although the seat was easily won by the Conservatives.

Subsequent academic career[edit]

In 1981 he was awarded a PhD by the University of London. He was a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. in 1980-81 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1986. In 1980-1983, he was a Leverhulme Research Fellow from 1980 until 1983.

In 1986-1992, MacFarquhar was Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.[1] He was a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow at Harvard in 1993-1994.

Currently, he is the Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science at Harvard. He has written many books and articles on modern Chinese subjects. He is considered by many to be the West's preeminent scholar of Chinese politics from the founding of the People's Republic through the Cultural Revolution.

Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Roderick Macfarqhar, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 140+ works in 330+ publications in 11 languages and 11,00+ library holdings [2]

  • The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals (1960)
  • China Under Mao: Politics Takes Command (1963)
  • Chinese ambitions and British policy Fabian tract (1966)
  • Sino-American Relations: 1949-1971 (1972)
  • The Forbidden City (1972)
  • The Origins of the Cultural Revolution - 1. Contradictions Among the People, 1956-1957 (1974)
  • The Origins of the Cultural Revolution - 2. The Great Leap Forward, 1958-1960 (1983)
  • The People's Republic: the Emergence of Revolutionary China, 1949-1965 (1987)
  • The Politics of China, 1949-1989 (1993)
  • Towards a New World Order (1993)
  • The Politics of China : the Eras of Mao and Deng (1997)
  • The Origins of the Cultural Revolution - 3. The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961-1966 (1997)
  • The Paradox of China's Post-Mao Reforms (1999)
  • Mao's Last Revolution (2006), with Michael Schoenhals

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Suleski, Ronald Stanley. (2005). The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University, p. 77.
  2. ^ WorldCat Identities: Macfarqhar, Roderick

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Geoffrey Stewart-Smith
Member of Parliament for Belper
February 19741979
Succeeded by
Sheila Faith