Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

April 22, 2007

Asian History Carnival

Filed under: Blog notices, Useful links, Web resources — amyjaneb @ 12:48 pm

I’m really chuffed that the post I wrote about ‘Though I Am Gone’ has been included in the thirteenth Asian History Carnival!  Chuffed and a little guilty, because it’s not like it was a particularly original post, seeing as lots of other blogs had already given the documentary a mention.  But it’s very gratifying to get a little recognition nevertheless.

 There are lots of other really interesting sounding posts flagged up by the Carnival which I’ll be checking out over lunch.


April 16, 2007

Long overdue (and completely random and disorganised) round-up of good stuff…

Filed under: China, Images, Material culture/art & design, Propaganda, Useful links — amyjaneb @ 10:45 pm

…just cos they’re useful links that I want to record, but haven’t got the time to organise them into categories, etc (some date from as far back as February.  You’ve got to get a grip girl!).

Frog in a Well’s really interesting discussion of the semantics of, and the history of, the western usage of the term ‘peasant’ with reference to China.

The Chinese media completely overreacting to poor reviews of The First Emperor carried in the American press, an opera starring Placido Domingo as Qin Shihuangdi, as told by Jeremiah at The Peking Duck.

A bewildering response to environmental concerns as reported by The Guardian (via Expresso Served Here).

– and finally (for now, at least):

A review of Jane Portal’s Art Under Control in North Korea posted on Museum Anthropology Review (via Museum Anthropology).  I’ve got this, but I haven’t yet got around to reading very much of it (another of those ubiquitous ‘books on the go’).

More links tomorrow…maybe.

March 7, 2007

The China fantasy

Filed under: China, Cultural Revolution, Images, Reading, Useful links — amyjaneb @ 8:33 pm

Here’s an interesting little item from

In it the reporter reviews a new book by James Mann, The China Fantasy:  How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression.  I haven’t read it, but the gist of Mann’s argument – former Beijing Correspondent at the LA Times – is that it is policy makers, politicians and diplomats who skew information about China, thereby creating false images in the West. 

The author of the article starts with a tale about an exchange between Shirley MacLaine and Deng Xiaoping.  MacLaine – as a potentially sympathetic to the regime – was invited to travel in China with a group of ‘ordinary’ American women towards the end of the Cultural Revolution, which she records in her book, You Can Get There From Here (1977).

While it does, in many ways, document a personal journey – MacClaine charts the struggle she goes through, as she attempts to reconcile her own political ideologies with contemporary American society and what she finds in China, while – at the same time – negotiating between the different ‘camps’ in her party (herself – the Hollywood Star, the ‘ordinary women’ – from a diverse range of backgrounds, and her film crew), and their Chinese ‘minders’, it is a useful first-hand resource (i.e. it offers a contemporary western account of the Cultural Revolution), by someone who – by dint of their position and public profile – could themselves affect changes, perhaps, in the popular cultural imaginings of her potential readership.  I think it feeds into a discussion of the image of China in 1960s and 1970s counter and youth culture (and by extension, popular culture) fairly well.

But returning to Mann’s book, although the review suggests it doesn’t offer a terrible balanced perspective, it sounds like a useful read.  Will add that one to the ‘to read’ list…

February 26, 2007

Nixon in China

Filed under: China, Language, Mandarin, Publications, Reading, Useful links — amyjaneb @ 10:54 pm

Not much time, nor energy for blogging today.  Have spent most of the day trying to learn Chinese vocab and working on the three minute presentation for the exam in a couple of weeks (which is going to be about the part of the country from which I hail – allows me to talk about directions, weather, types of buildings, etc) and working (all too briefly) on my research seminar paper. 

But, I have had time to check out my feeds on Google Reader. 

This – Nixon in China « History News – is a good roundup of reviews and discussions about Margaret MacMillan’s new book Nixon in China, which – for some reason I dismissed, when I had the opportunity to buy it over Christmas (I think the blurb on the back cover might have put me off for some reason?).  Anyway, having had a quick read of the collected links (though not in depth – suffering from ‘woolly brain’ tonight), I think it is something I should have a look at.  Will work well as a companion piece to Isaacs’ preface to the 1972 edition of Images of Asia, which discusses changing perceptions of China and the Chinese in America immediately in the wake of Nixon’s visit:  contemporary assessment versus historical study.

Oh, and this Dokuticker thing that John Russell mentions looks interesting too…

February 19, 2007

My first task…

Filed under: Blog notices, Useful links, Web resources — amyjaneb @ 4:41 pm

…is to consolidate all the useful links and bookmarks I’ve collected over the past eighteen months in one place.  I’m adding them (slowly) to a separate page (‘web resources’ – see right-hand sidebar).  They’re not organised or categorised in any way, at the moment.  Hopefully, if I get time in the near future, I’ll be able to sort them into categories.  At present, I’m just keen to get them all in one place so that I can keep on top of them all.  It’s so easy to lose or forget about really useful web resources and until now they’ve been very unsatisfactorily filed in my (rather chaotic) mind.  This job – though long and tedious – should free up a bit of brain space for philosophising and sounding clever.  😉

And when I’ve done that, my next task will be to beautify my template.  Or, at the very least, ‘red’ theme it!

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