Mapping a Local/Global Socialist Lifestyle: Practice and Perception of Life in Maoist China

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Mapping a Local/Global Socialist Lifestyle: Practice and Perception of Life in Maoist China
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Shaofan An, University of Macau, Macau (organizer, presenter)
Xiaoming Zhu, Renmin University of China, China (chair, discussant)
Yifan Shi, Simon Fraser University, Canada (presenter)
Yiyang Wu, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (presenter)
Megan M. Ferry, Union College, United States (presenter)


This panel examines the diversity and complexity of China’s Maoism as both a practice and perception, especially in its role of shaping a socialist life in both local and global contexts. The individual papers demonstrate that the nature and characteristics of a socialist life in practice and in perception are multiple. Shi examines how urban youth reacted to the attempts to collectivize their leisure time as a form of socialist discipline. An explores how urban intellectuals, who already thought they were participants in socialist reform through their writings, had to adjust their thinking once they found themselves in the rural context of revolution and lived physically among the proletariat. Urban intellectuals’ way of thinking was reshaped in line with the broad masses of peasant-worker class. Wu demonstrates the conflictual process of turning a popular, competitive, and individual sport into a bodily discipline and expression of egalitarian socialist norms among urbanites. It not only served to promote hygiene and physical exercise, but also sportsmanship and gender equality. Ferry illustrates how social liberation and equality espoused by Chinese socialism caught the imagination of Latin American visitors to China, especially in how they found a sense of place in Maoist ideology, and imagined its global applicability across cultural differences. By uniting urban, socialist cultural experiences with global Maoism, this panel asks us to consider how everyday life required inhabiting in both mind and body the local and global spaces of Chinese socialism.