Mater Material Contradictions in Mao's China


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An excavation of the sociocultural, economic, and political history of everyday commodities

Table of Contents


Introduction: Making Revolution Material / Jennifer Altehenger and Denise Y. Ho

1. Bamboo Objects and Socialist Construction / Jennifer Altehenger

2. The Brick / Cole Roskam

3. Design and Handicraft / Christine I. Ho

4. Dance Props and the Rural Imaginary / Emily Wilcox

5. Mobile Projectionists and the Things They Carried / Jie Li

6. Outside Objects and Material Propaganda / Denise Y. Ho

7. The Problematics of Plenty / Laurence Coderre

8. Nationalizing Food Provision in Beijing / Madeleine Yue Dong

9. One Country, Two Material Cultures / Jacob Eyferth

10. The Makings of China's Cold War Motor City / Covell F. Meyskens

Afterword: Material Culture and the Socialist Uncanny in Mao’s China / Jonathan Bach

Chinese Character Glossary

Selected Bibliography

List of Contributors


About the Author

Jennifer Altehenger is associate professor of Chinese history and Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History at the University of Oxford and Merton College. She is author of Legal Lessons: Popularizing Laws in the People’s Republic of China, 1949–1989. Denise Y. Ho is associate professor of history at Yale University. She is author of Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China.


"In addition to the variety of subjects covered, the richness of the book – and the pleasure derived from reading it – lies in the wide range of sources used: Party publications, popular media, general magazines, professional journals, comic books, technical manuals, as well as guidebooks, texts written by intellectuals, propaganda posters, films or customs regulations. The reader travels from rural to urban China, from construction sites to restaurant kitchens, from cinemas to car factories. This book confirms how important it is for historical research to draw on a wide variety of sources to capture the depth of everyday life."
*China Quarterly*

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