“Revolutionizing Antiquity: The Shanghai Cultural Bureaucracy in the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1968.” The China Quarterly, No. 207 (September 2011), pp. 687-705.
“Reforming Connoisseurship: State and Collectors in Shanghai in the 1950s and 1960s” (改造文物鉴赏：1950-1960年代政府与文物收藏家的博弈). Frontiers of History in China, Vol. 7, Issue 4 (2012), pp. 608-637.
“Culture, Class, and Revolution in China’s Turbulent Decade: A Cultural Revolution State of the Field.” History Compass, Vol. 12, No. 3 (2014), pp. 226-238.
“From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia: Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town,” co-authored with Jie Li. Modern China, Vol. 42, Issue 1 (2016), pp. 3-37.
“Teaching China’s Cultural Revolution,” The PRC History Review, Vol. 4, Issue 2 (August 2017), pp. 24-26.
“AHR Conversation: Museums, History, and the Public in a Global Age,” American Historical Review, Vol. 124, Issue 5 (December 2019), pp. 1631-1672.
“Making a Revolutionary Monument: The Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” in Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution, edited by Jie Li and Enhua Zhang. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2016, pp. 25-55.
“一处革命纪念地的诞生：发现中国共产党第一次全国代表大会的会址,” translated by Du Guanshan, in Jiyi (Remembrance) Vol. 2, No. 1 (2020), pp. 98-111.
“博物馆: Museum,” in Afterlives of Chinese Communism, edited by Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini, and Nicholas Loubere. Acton: ANU Press and Verso Books, 2019, pp. 141-148.
“The Old Society and the New Society: Towards a Material Culture of China’s Cultural Revolution,” in The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, edited by Sarah Carter and Ivan Gaskell. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 355-375.“
Museums and the Nation in Twentieth-Century China,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, edited by David Ludden and Peter Perdue. Forthcoming.
“Outside Objects and Material Propaganda,” in Material Contradictions in Mao’s China, Jennifer Altehenger and Denise Y. Ho. Under review.
“Big-Character-Posters,” The Mao Era in Objects.
The Shanghai Cultural Bureaucracy in the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1968 [PDF]
Abstract: This article examines the response of Shanghai’s cultural bureaucracy during the Attack on the Four Olds, the Red Guard repudiation of old culture launched in the early years of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76). It focuses on how local officials, acting in a space created by the Central Cultural Revolution Group and the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee, worked to control the damage wrought by the political campaign and justified their activities by adapting the rhetoric of revolution. Based on the archival documents of the Shanghai Bureau of Culture, this article traces the reinvention of the cultural bureaucracy and the subsequent shift in the language of preservation. It argues that during the Cultural Revolution, there was an institutionalized and ideologically legitimated movement to protect historic sites and cultural objects. Faced with the destruction of antiquity, Shanghai officials instead proposed its rectification, defending cultural relics in the name of revolution.
State and Collectors in Shanghai in the 1950s and 1960s [PDF]
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between the state and art collectors during the 1950s and 1960s in Shanghai. It explores how the state gained control over art and collecting, by building state museums, by co-opting connoisseurs and their collections, and by extending “socialist transformation” to the antiquities market in 1956. However, state control was far from complete, and some trade in antiquities continued outside of official channels. To crack down on this illegal trade, cultural authorities in Shanghai launched a Five-Antis Campaign in 1964 to punish alleged art speculators. Through its cultural institutions and political campaigns, the state controlled culture but did not monopolize it.
Culture, Class, and Revolution in China’s Turbulent Decade:
A Cultural Revolution State of the Field [PDF]
Abstract: This article surveys the recent scholarship on China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) from a variety of disciplines. It selects three keywords—culture, class, and revolution—and shows how contemporary research has reframed our understanding of each concept. Studies of culture argue that Cultural Revolution culture was an integral part of China’s 20th century project of modernization, examinations of class challenge the role of class status in explaining action while offering new frameworks for understanding class, and analyses of the “revolution” in the Cultural Revolution question how we locate it within the history of 20th century China.
From Landlord Manor to Red Memorabilia:
Reincarnations of a Chinese Museum Town [PDF]
Abstract: What was a revolutionary museum in the Mao era, and what are the lives and afterlives of its artifacts? This article traces the exhibitionary culture of the town of Anren, home to both the Mao-era sculptural icon the Rent Collection Courtyard and the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, China’s largest private museum and collection of Maoist memorabilia. Examining the production and reception of exhibits from the 1950s to the present, we argue that—far from mausoleums that relegate objects safely to history—museums in China have been dynamic and vital public spaces that have defined and redefined the past for the present, serving as both a medium and a product of revolutionary culture. Over the last six decades, museums have paraded the revolution’s spoils, served as a schoolroom for class education, replaced traditional temples as new ritual sites, staged theatrical performances, held court over historical cases, and, finally, commodified their collections into tourist memorabilia.
Teaching China’s Cultural Revolution
Teaching China’s Cultural Revolution [PDF]
Abstract: This essay presents three topics in teaching the Cultural
Revolution. I begin with a spectrum of affective and cognitive
learning. While good teaching incorporates both, it is difficult
to integrate the two. Students and high school teachers focus
on deeply moving memoirs and films or questions of morality;
in an upper-division college course the instructor may offer
the latest social science research that is both technical and
theoretical. The next section of this essay suggests a problem
that both secondary and tertiary instructors deal with: how to
go beyond standard narratives while also making something of
a history that is complex and fragmented. Finally, in the spirit
of future conversation, the third part proposes that curriculums
may frame their “teaching objectives” as an opportunity to
learn how we know what we know. Pursuing a “theory of
knowledge” offers students of the Cultural Revolution a view
of historical scholarship that is participatory.
Museums, History, and the Public in a Global Age [PDF]
Abstract: The 2019 Conversation examines the role played by museums and the act of display in the formation of historical narratives in diverse national contexts. Steven Conn (Miami University) and Denise Y. Ho (Yale University) are joined here by Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University), Alice L. Conklin (Ohio State University), Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (New York University), and Samuel J. Redman (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), to discuss both scholarship on the history of museums and the contested politics of museum display. Most broad, as historians and/or curators, they wrestle with a deceptively simple question: What, exactly, are museums for? Who should the museum “speak”–and answer–to? What responsibility do museum professionals have when it comes to displaying–or smoothing over–a traumatic past? As readers will see, this is not a question only of architecture, display, curation, or even historical accuracy. Instead, these matters cut to the heart of the underlying role of museums in collecting and organizing items that necessarily reflect the power relations embedded in their very acquisition. As Steven Conn asks, what can provenance tell us, and how much obligation do curators have to reveal it to museumgoers?
Making a Revolutionary Monument:
The Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
In: Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution, edited by Jie Li and Enhua Zhang.
In: Jiyi (Remembrance), translated by Du Guanshan.
In: Afterlives of Chinese Communism, edited by Christian Sorace, Ivan Franceschini, and Nicholas Loubere.
From Confiscation to Collection
The Objects of China’s Cultural Revolution [PDF]
In: The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture, edited by Sarah Carter and Ivan Gaskell.
Museums and the Nation in Twentieth-Century China
In: The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, edited by David Ludden and Peter Perdue.
Outside Objects and Material Propaganda
In: Material Contradictions in Mao’s China, edited by Jennifer Altehenger and Denise Y. Ho.