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Is There a Socialist Everyday? Collectivizing Beijing in the Mao Era

October 20, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm


Fabio Lanza
Associate Professor of History, University of Arizona

In the years between 1958 and 1962, the Urban Commune movement was introduced as an original and radical effort to change the everyday lives of urban residents, including their relationship to work, eating, care of the self and of the family. But it was especially meant to completely alter the conditions of women (urban “housewives”): by freeing them from the drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and childcare and inserting them into the productive life of factory work, the movement aimed at achieving a new form of everyday, based on a true equality of gender relationships, one achieved through the shared creativity of manual labor. By looking at both the theoretical discussions and the experimental practices of collectivization in Beijing, this presentation shows that while the movement failed, it nonetheless brought to the fore some of the crucial tensions that marred the search for a socialist everyday: between participatory democracy and state hierarchy, between production and liberation, and between labor and gender equality.

Fabio Lanza (Ph.D. Columbia University, 2004) is author of Behind the Gate: Inventing Students in Beijing (Columbia University Press, 2010) and The End of Concern: Maoist China, Activism, and Asian Studies (Duke University Press, 2017). He also co-edited (with Jadwiga Pieper-Mooney) De-Centering Cold War History: Local and Global Change (Routledge, 2013).

Confucius Institute Distinguished Lecture and Asia at Noon Presentation, co-sponsored by the UB Asian Studies Program, Department of History, and Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy


Read more about Fabio Lanza


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