Museological Warfare

Museological Warfare: Cine-Exhibition of Class Struggle in Mao’s China
Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | September 4 | 5-6:30 p.m. |  Online – Zoom webinar
 Belinda Qian He, CCS Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
 Weihong Bao, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

Belinda Q. He’s talk examines the little studied exhibition-cinema dynamics in a Mao-era cultural movement that celebrated the mass historiographies based on supposedly crowdsourced archiving, collecting, curating, writing, and storytelling. Situated in the context of the Socialist Education Movement, it provides a case study of the intersection between a local class struggle exhibition and the documentary based on the exhibition, an alternative “museum film” in the Maoist context. The talk explores how the genre zhanlanhui (temporary exhibition, or more specifically, class education exhibition) lived out its cinematic and transmedia life, transforming familiar phenomena that had not been named in a single unified way, but which consequently, took on changing and extreme forms in a complex of punitive practices (pidou, mass gatherings in which class enemies were accused and/or tormented in public).

The work argues that the operation of what may be called museological warfare at the center of the phenomena was crucial to the shaping of class struggle in Mao’s China through exhibition making; recognizing the role of museological warfare helps us to rethink the functioning of pidou as an unfolding system of transmedia practices. In contrast with conventional views, which see socialist media as the leading forces in a top-down state propaganda system, or as idealistic imaginaries of grassroots exhibition practices in human rights activism and social protests, this study stresses the complexity of the mutual working of exhibition and cinema within a (Maoist) mass-produced media network. Furthermore, the Maoist case of cinema and/as exhibition draws our attention to a type of cinematic encounter that is revolutionary not in the sense that it was produced and used for socialist revolutionary purposes but in terms of its articulation of interactive, participatory, and possibly immersive experiences that resonate in so many ways with contemporary examples largely assumed to be defined by digitality.

 Please register before 4pm, Friday September 4.Register online
 Xiaojie Ma,,  510-643-6321

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