1st Edition

Redefining Propaganda in Modern China The Mao Era and its Legacies

Edited By James Farley, Matthew D. Johnson Copyright 2021
    336 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    336 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Usage of the political keyword 'propaganda' by the Chinese Communist Party has changed and expanded over time. These changes have been masked by strong continuities spanning periods in the history of the People's Republic of China from the Mao Zedong era (1949–76) to the new era of Xi Jinping (2012–present).

    Redefining Propaganda in Modern China builds on the work of earlier scholars to revisit the central issue of how propaganda has been understood within the Communist Party system. What did propaganda mean across successive eras? What were its institutions and functions? What were its main techniques and themes? What can we learn about popular consciousness as a result? In answering these questions, the contributors to this volume draw on a range of historical, cultural studies, propa­ganda studies and comparative politics approaches. Their work captures the sweep of propaganda – its appearance in everyday life, as well as during extraordinary moments of mobilization (and demobilization), and its systematic continuities and discontinuities from the perspective of policy-makers, bureaucratic function­aries and artists. More localized and granular case studies are balanced against deep readings and cross-cutting interpretive essays, which place the history of the People's Republic of China within broader temporal and comparative frames.

    Addressing a vital aspect of Chinese Communist Party authority, this book is meant to provide a timely and comprehensive update on what propaganda has meant ideologically, operationally, aesthetically and in terms of social experience.

    Notes on contributors



    James Farley and Matthew Johnson

    Part I: Historical Perspectives

    1. Propaganda: A Historical Perspective

    David Welch

    2. China’s Directed Public Sphere: Historical Perspectives on Mao’s Propaganda State

    Timothy Cheek

    Part II: Icons and Imagery

    3. Liu Hulan – ‘A Great Life, a Glorious Death’: Martyrdom Across the Media

    James Farley

    4. Creating the Subtle Image of the ‘Compatriot’ 同胞 – The People of Taiwan and Hong Kong in Chinese Propaganda Posters of the Mao Era (1949-1976)

    Jia Zhen 賈甄

    5. Anatomy of an Emulation Campaign: "Study from Comrade Wang Guofu"

    Richard King

    Part III: Reception and Affect

    6. Developing Patriotic Anti-Americanism: Chinese Propaganda and the Resist America, Aid Korea Campaign, 1949-53

    Andrew Kuech

    7. One More Time, with Feeling: Revolutionary Repetition and the Cultural Revolution Red Guard Rally Documentaries, 1966-67

    Eldon Pei

    Part IV: Transitions

    8. Breaking with the Past: Party Propaganda and State Crimes

    Puck Engman

    9. From Text(s) to Image(s): Maoist-Era Texts and their Influences on Six Oil Paintings (1957-79)

    Christopher A. Reed

    Part V: Legacies

    10. Propaganda and Security from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping: Struggling to Defend China’s Socialist System

    Matthew Johnson

    11. Whose China Dream is it Anyway: Temporalities of ‘Ethnicity’ in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang

    Melissa Shani Brown and David O’Brien

    12. China as ‘Third Pole’ Culture: Between Theorizing and Thought Work

    Prem Poddar and Lisa Lindkvist Zhang

    Selected Bibliography


    James Farley completed his PhD at the University of Kent in 2016. In 2016 he organized an international conference on 'China's Propaganda System: Legacies and Enduring Themes' and his monograph, Model Workers in China, 1949–1965 (2019), was published by Routledge. He is currently a post doctoral researcher at Universität Hamburg, Germany.

    Matthew D. Johnson is an independent research consultant and analyst. He pre­viously held academic appointments at the University of Oxford and Grinnell College, and as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Taylor's University, Malaysia. His books include Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China's Era of High Socialism (joint editor, 2015). He is also a director of the PRC History Group (prchistory.org).