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Leveling the City: The Socialist Transformation of Shanghai in the 1950s

Lecture given by Dr. Jake Werner (University of Chicago). The talk will take place on Tuesday, 7 August 2018, 2 pm, at Erbprinzenstraße 12 (4th floor).

Jake Werner's book project seeks to explain the emergence and ascendance of mass society in China through an investigation of everyday life in Shanghai across three turbulent decades. From the possibilities opened up by Jazz Age consumer culture in the early 1930s to the wholesale restructuring of work and culture under the Chinese Communist Party in the 1950s, the advent of mass society was centrally implicated in—and ultimately provided the resolution of—the long crisis of depression and war in China. By integrating large groups of people who had been marginalized, both socially and economically, into the industrial economy and a new culture of the masses, Communist Party rule after 1949 rapidly gained legitimacy and revived economic growth. Yet the process of integration into mass society also planted the seeds of future crises, as mass society’s aesthetic of homogenization and standardization developed in tension with the occupational differentiation and regimentation required by the Party’s developmental vision. This talk will introduce the project through a focus on the transformation of Shanghai's urban space in the 1950s.


Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Institut für Sinologie
Werthmannstraße 12
D-79098 Freiburg i. Br.

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