The growth of markets and consumerism in China's post-Mao era of political and economic reform is a story familiar to many. By contrast, the Mao period (1949–1976) — accurately framed as a time of scarcity — initially appears to have had little material culture to speak of. Yet people attributed great meaning to materials and objects often precisely because they were rare and difficult to obtain. Join Jennifer Altehenger (Oxford University) and Denise Ho (Yale University), the co-editors of Material Contradictions in Mao's China, in a discussion of just how central materiality was to everyday life in China, from travelling cinemas to what would seem like routine objects today. This hybrid event is jointly organized by RASBJ and the Yale Center Beijing. The speakers will be streamed online, and Ching-Ching Ni will moderate in-person at the Yale Center Beijing.
Associate Professor of History at Yale University
Denise Y. Ho is associate professor of twentieth-century Chinese history at Yale University. She is an historian of modern China, with a particular focus on social and cultural history. She is the author of Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China (2018), and co-editor of Material Contradictions in Mao’s China (2022). She is currently completing her second book, entitled Cross-Border Relations: A Grassroots History of Hong Kong and China.
Associate Professor of Chinese History and Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History at University of Oxford
Jennifer Altehenger is associate professor of Chinese History and Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History at the University of Oxford and Merton College. Her research focuses on the history of the People’s Republic of China. She is the author of Legal Lessons: Popularizing Laws in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-1989 (2018). With Denise Y. Ho, she co-edited Material Contradictions in Mao's China (2022) and she is also editor of the online resource "The Mao Era in Objects." Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust, she is currently working on a book entitled The Matter of Design: Furnishing Socialist China.
Editor-in-Chief at The New York Times Chinese website
Ching-Ching Ni is editor-in-chief of the New York Times Chinese-language website and Shi lifestyle magazine. She began her career in China as Shanghai bureau chief and Beijing correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. She branched briefly into academia, serving as associate dean and professor at the journalism school at Shantou University.