Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2020 Houyi He. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Robert Weinberg


The defortification of Beijing was a controversial issue among scholar-officials and senior cadres of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the 1950s. This article takes a closer look at the genealogy of thoughts that informed how revolutionaries and intellectuals perceived, portrayed, and interacted with Beijing’s city walls and gates between 1949 and 1959, with the goal of understanding the decision of defortification through their lens. I attempt to show that the CCP used Beijing’s city walls and gates to communicate and exercise its political visions and that underpinning the decision to demolish Beijing’s city walls and gates was the equation of destruction with a process of production.


Recipient of the Robert S. DuPlessis Prize, awarded in 2021.