Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

March 27, 2008

Lost in Translation

Filed under: China, Propaganda, Tibet — amyjaneb @ 11:08 am

There’s a really interesting little article by Channel 4 News’ Beijing Correspondent Lindsey Hilsum on their website (thanks to Danwei for the heads-up), in which she examines the use of Cultural Revolution-esque terminology and language by the Chinese authorities when discussing the ‘Tibet issue’.  While this is nothing new, of course, for example the Chinese propaganda machine continued to churn out hyper-propagandist posters for use in China long after restrictions on art and design in China had been relaxed, it’s thought-provoking all the same. 

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March 16, 2008

Sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite

Filed under: China, Protest, Tibet, Web resources — amyjaneb @ 12:48 pm

I’m feeling really torn; between my love of China (my obsession, in fact) and distress at what is happening in Tibet.  Similarly, I cannot wait for the Olympics in Beijing, and yet I am uneasy about my resultant lack of interest in supporting the boycott of the Games over Darfur and Tibet.  Thus, I felt it was wrong for me not to recognise here the ‘cultural genocide’* taking place under the aegis of the Chinese authorities, even though it is decidedly off-topic.  ‘Though, having said that, contemporary Chinese activities in Tibet are likely to have a big impact on the image of China in the West, especially given the current attention focused on Chinese heritage and culture.  Though only if the media gives it full and due attention (something that appears a little lacking at present, IMHO).

Anyway, Jeremiah and the Peking Duck community are doing a valiant job at keeping readers informed and updated about the situation in Tibet.

In other news, my total lack of posts in recent weeks is mainly due to the fact that I am now well into the writing-up process.  And it’s sapping most of my time and energy (as it should!). 

*The Dalai Lama’s words, not mine – ‘though I am inclined to agree.

March 14, 2007

Controversy surrounds new exhibition of Tibetan artefacts

Filed under: Censorship, China, Cultural Revolution, Propaganda, Tibet, Weblinks — amyjaneb @ 10:39 pm

Mary Stevens wrote about this exhibition ages ago on her blog – I’m just trying to catch up after my busy week!  Unfortunately (for me) the article she links to is in German, but I’ve used Google’s nifty translation tool (I got a D in GCSE German) and can offer a, slightly dodgy, English translation of the article here.  I’m intrigued by Horst ‘Charcoal Burner!.  😉  Anyway, the basic gist is that this new major exhibition of Tibetan objects from China at the Museum für Asiatische Kunst in Berlin avoids discussion of the 1959 Chinese ‘liberation’ of Tibet and the resulting destruction of many religious and culturally significant objects following the Dalai Lama’s flight to India.  The Der Spiegel article suggests that it was a Chinese condition for the loan of these objects that any political context was glossed over by the curatorial team.  This is an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time.  To what extent do the Chinese cultural authorities control the representation of China without its borders?  For example, I would be really interested to find out whether, for example, the V&A and British Museum – who have entered into a cultural exchange programme with Chinese museums (which has lead to the Qin Shihuangdi exhibition at the BM later this year) have had to agree to similar conditions.  I have a strong suspicion that there has, at the very least, been some self-censorship in anticipation of visits by officials from the Chinese Embassy, which is backed up by some anecdotal evidence passed onto me (admittedly second hand).  Of course, this all has implications for how the Cultural Revolution is – or, indeed – if it can ever be sufficiently explored in the museum environment.

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