Mao’s Homeworld(s): A Comment on the Use of Propaganda Posters in Post-War China

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Within cognitive science, narratives are regarded as crucial and fundamental cognitive instruments or tools. As Roger Schank suggests, the identity of (sub-)cultures is to a considerable extent based upon the sharing of narrative structures (Schank. 1995. Tell me a story: Narrative and intelligence. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.). According to Schank, culturally shared stories, as do many other stories, occur frequently in highly abbreviated form, as “skeleton stories” or “gists.” Collective identities are conveyed in and between cultures not only through verbal discourse, but also by pictorial means. Many pictures and visual artworks have indeed been produced in order to establish and to consolidate a home-culture and to demarcate it from conceived extra-cultural counterparts.

Some of my previous work on these lines has been concerned with demarcation efforts in visual media of “Jews” as extra-cultural, since the Middle Ages onwards, in the Third Reich’s iconography, as well as in modern, radicalized forms of anti-Semitic picturing in Arab media (Ranta. 2016. The (pictorial) construction of collective identities in the Third Reich. Language and Semiotic Studies 2(3). 107–124, Ranta. 2017. Master narratives and the (pictorial) construction of otherness: Anti-semitic images in the Third Reich and beyond. Contemporary Aesthetics 15. (accessed 17 November 2019.). In building upon and extending this work, I shall focus in the current paper upon attempts of creating cultural and political cohesion by means of pictorial propaganda in post-war China from the early 1950’s onwards, as promoted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership by Mao Zedong. Some concrete pictorial examples indicating these attempts will be discussed from a narratological and cultural semiotic perspective.


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Sidor (från-till)53-78
Utgåva nummer232
Tidigt onlinedatum2020 jan 11
StatusPublished - 2020 feb 25
Peer review utfördJa