Fabio Lanza - “To Make Life More Beautiful:” Gender, Industrial Labour, and Collectivization during the Great Leap Forward
|Dates:||27 October 2020|
|Times:||15:30 - 16:30|
|What is it:||Webinar|
|Organiser:||Manchester China Institute|
Webinar: In the years between 1958 and 1962, the Urban Commune movement was promoted as a radical effort to change the daily lives of Chinese city residents, including their relationship to work, eating, care of the self and of the family. It was especially aimed at completely altering the conditions of women (urban “housewives”): by freeing them from the drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and childcare and inserting them into the “truly productive” life of factory work, the movement aimed at achieving a new form of everyday, based on a true equality of gender relationships, accomplished through the shared creativity of manual labour. But early reports of success (down to the elimination of gossip and renewed spousal bliss) eventually gave way to more grim assessments of continuing exploitation, factory alienation, and persistent inequality.
By looking at both the theoretical discussions and the experimental practices of collectivization in Beijing, this paper 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 welfare and development, between labour and liberation, and between production and social reproduction.
Organisation: University of Arizona
Biography: Fabio is a cultural historian of twentieth-century China, with a particular focus on political activism and urban space. He teaches introductory classes on Modern China and Modern East Asia as well as a course on Communist China through films, memoirs, and fictional narratives.
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