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By Elizabeth J. Perry

How can we clarify the striking trajectory of the chinese language Communist revolution? Why has it taken the sort of assorted direction from its Russian prototype? a solution, Elizabeth Perry indicates, lies within the chinese language Communists’ artistic improvement and deployment of cultural assets – in the course of their progressive upward push to energy and afterwards. Skillful “cultural positioning” and “cultural patronage,” at the a part of Mao Zedong, his comrades and successors, helped to build a polity within which a as soon as alien Communist process got here to be authorised as familiarly “Chinese.” Perry strains this strategy via a case learn of the Anyuan coal mine, a spot the place Mao and different early leaders of the chinese language Communist get together mobilized an influential hard work circulation at the start in their revolution, and whose background later turned a touchstone of “political correctness” within the People’s Republic of China. as soon as referred to as “China’s Little Moscow,” Anyuan came around time to represent a distinctively chinese language progressive culture. but the meanings of that culture stay hugely contested, as modern chinese language debate their innovative prior looking for a brand new political future.

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The Autumn Harvest Uprising in September 1927, which propelled Mao down the path of peasant revolution, was planned and launched from Anyuan with the participation of hundreds of coal miners. By the fall of 1930, thousands of Anyuan workers had enlisted as soldiers in the Red Army. Due to its close connection to these formative events, Anyuan affords a revealing vantage point for examining the origins and evolution of the Chinese revolution. The success of the Anyuan mobilization effort, we will discover, was closely related to the ability of the young Communist cadres to convert cultural capital into valuable revolutionary currency.

In order to be convincing, cultural positioning demands intimate familiarity with prevailing norms and habits as well as a keen eye for the possibilities of meaningful invention within tradition. Social protests (and protest leaders) vary considerably in their success at meeting this common challenge. Although the “cultural turn” in the social sciences has been underway for over a generation, it is often conducted as discourse analysis in which writings, speeches, films, festivals, and other communicative materials are treated for the most part as disembodied texts whose meaning emerges through the process of scholarly deconstruction.

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