“This book will be of great interest to students of the Mao years focusing on both intellectual history and popular culture…I see in Ho’s book a new perspective on the dense enmeshment of the political and popular culture of the time; the book shows how the objects and narratives involved in exhibition mattered both for politics and for individual curators and visitors.”

Leksa Lee, The PRC History Review

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“Denise Y. Ho’s book, impeccably grounded in archival and oral research, analyzes how certain objects of Mao-era politics (1949-1979), glossed as revolution, came to be organized for exhibition in local- and national-level forms…She reveals how material objects were made to take on meaning through their contextualization into various narrative strategies, and she explores how narrative strategies were bent to fit the materialized realities of ever-shifting political life itself.”

Rebecca Karl, The Public Historian

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“Ho’s volume focuses on the way in which, in the Mao era, political museumification and the representation of contemporary and past Chinese history were taking shape. Through a painstaking examination that gives large space to the testimony of curators and visitors, [Ho’s study] offers a close reading of the processes of patrimonialization, and hence the transformation of meaning, of sites that were rediscovered, re-mounted, cleansed where necessary, and then transformed into so many must-sees in a memory tour reconstructed along Mao’s directives. From early on Mao had shown interest toward the instant creation of a visual and didactic memory of the revolution above all, but without neglecting to rescue the meaning of Chinese past clearly reinterpreted through a revolutionary lens.”
Ilaria Porciani, Passato e presente
[Trans. Maria Sibau]
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“Ho’s point is that museums and exhibitions served two distinct and sometimes conflicting goals in Mao’s time: state legitimation—a proper state conserves and shows its heritage—and mobilization—displays to mobilize the masses to revolutionary action…This is rich grassroots history grounded in both the operations and the documents of the party and the voices and experience of ordinary people.”

Timothy Cheek, American Historical Review
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