Originally penned by Mao Zedong in 1961 as an inscription on a photograph of female militia, “Bu ai hongzhuang, ai wuzhuang” 不爱红妆爱武 装 (“They love their battle array, not silks and satins”) for many sums up a presumed erasure of femininity in favor of a universalized masculine subject position within socialist China. This article reconsiders the discursive work done by militarized female bodies—physically and representationally—focusing on alternative international and internationalist futures following the Sino-Soviet split of 1960. The article critically engages state-to-state relations and internationally circulating PRC-produced cultural material that articulated feminist ideals as part of Afro-Asian-Latin American solidarity. This article returns to well-known texts of Maoist China to rethink state-produced Chinese feminism as a Cold War framework and gendered globality. It shifts the analytic from Cold War dichotomies that legitimate what most scholars misrepresent as an insular Chinese socialist female subjectivity of the 1960s to focus on the complex global dimensions of Cold War socialist feminism.
Gendered Globality as a Cold War Framework: International Dimensions of Chinese Female Bodies in the 1960s
Tina Mai Chen is a professor of history at the University of Manitoba. She publishes on topics related to Sino-Soviet cultural exchange, media and film in the People’s Republic of China, and socialist feminism as ideal and practice. Her recent work includes curating the exhibit “Moving Images, Moving People” (featuring multimedia works by Tong Lam), Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (2019).
Tina Mai Chen; Gendered Globality as a Cold War Framework: International Dimensions of Chinese Female Bodies in the 1960s. positions 1 August 2020; 28 (3): 603–630. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-8315153
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