China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Socialist Impressions: Printing in the Cultural Revolution

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Wilson A, Mezzanine Level

Scholars have long studied the imprint of state ideology in Socialist China, but how was the actual printing done in the first place?  Drawing on official archives, rare editions, physical artifacts, and oral interviews, my paper examines how Maoist China – a country with chronic paper shortages and few centers of industrial printing – came to build a material infrastructure of propaganda that saw the rise of the most printed book of the 20th century: Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book.  It tracks two intersecting stories.  On the one hand, in uncovering the official mechanisms of print making – from paper allocation to typesetting to distribution networks – my project explores the reach and limits of state propaganda.  On the other hand, attending equally to underground printing and ersatz editions that flourished at the grassroots level, my paper examines how printing presses came to be deployed as essential weapons in throes of factional fighting.  Taken together, in foregrounding the materiality of paper and prints, my paper will illuminate the dynamic interactions between media technology and information management in Socialist China.

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2 - Socialist Impressions: Printing in the Cultural Revolution

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