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News Photography and Visual Political Communication in the People’s Republic of China, 1960s–1980s

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) envisioned the “socialist new person” as a well-read person, who hoped to join the party and ultimately was inspired and guided by texts—books, collections of documents, newspaper articles, reprints of speeches but also political slogans and other—to act as a leader of revolution in advancing the project of socialist enlightenment. Due to this, organized reading was a key practice in the state propaganda system of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), both during the Maoist period (1949–1976) but also at least until the mid-1980s. Given that the PRC as a political body relied on the mobilization of society for political purposes, the CCP made use of group-reading activities to communicate notions of statehood, class struggle and socialist modernization. Through direct involvement in such activities, the readers were meant to embody the texts and, by extension, the socialist values and principles that the texts stood for. At the same time, collective reading (and other formalized propaganda activities) aided the forging of new socialist subjects. Yet, how did ordinary women and men know what patterns of behavior were expected of them during the sessions of collective reading?



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