Abstract

What is the catalytic element that brings about widespread participation in a mass campaign? Is it ideology? Self-interest? Emotional states of fear, hatred, or love? Taking into account the recent proliferation of sound studies approaches to the history of the People's Republic of China, this article explores this question through the sonic experience of the campaign. Previous studies of the soundscapes of the Mao era have focused upon state initiatives of sound-borne propaganda and their role in the transmission of revolutionary ideas. Using a case study of the Hundred Flowers and Anti-Rightist campaigns of 1956–58, I examine the reception of such propaganda with a focus on silence, sound, and voice and their affective qualities. Through the use of diaries, memoirs, contemporary newspapers, and interviews, I explore the extra-linguistic aspects of the campaign to ask what, outside of revolutionary words and emotions, brought the subjects of a campaign from silence to vocal participation.

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