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Lecture: Long shadows of the Cultural Revolution: A transgenerational perspective on politics and emotion in the People’s Republic of China

January 2020 @ 16:00 - 18:00

Long shadows of the Cultural Revolution: A transgenerational perspective on politics and emotion in the People’s Republic of China

Lecturer: Dr. Sascha Klotzbücher
Time: Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 4pm-6pm
Place: VG 4.105

I will introduce how I came to work on a framework for the analysis of power looking on the role of emotions and psychodynamics. In a first step, my book published in German asks about the conditions of marginalization of emotions and the “emotional returns” (Biess/Gross) in my learning and research environment. Using interpretative and reflexive methods, I try to construct my epistemological framework. What role does emotions play in the relationship between the subject as researcher and our object of research in something what is called “Chinese Studies” or “Sinology”?
In a second step, I argue that the political power of Maoism as an ideological concept came from the possibility how ordinary people simplified and distorted it as an access to a new “Lebenswelt”. Maoist ideology, so my hypothesis, created a stable system of “affect manipulation” to exist, enabling authorities to subtly manipulate individuals to perceive themselves in politically defined states of joy and frustration. It is crucial to understand the process of identification in politically designed and unified social roles propagated during the Cultural Revolution. Acting in these social roles, they internalize ideology when coping with politically induced anxiety, and ambivalence. In the same time, these roles enable them to act out these new designed positive feelings.
As a case study, I use autobiographies written by a former high school student in Wuhan who murdered two members of a rival red guards association in 1966. I discuss the constructed feeling of “hate“ as part of the social role “people’s hero”.
The last part of the paper analyzes the legacy and transmission of these role concepts into the current society of mainland China in ‘apolitical’ settings like families. Using my interviews with the former sent-down youth and their children in Wuhan, I will analyze how these memories and feelings of this identification are transferred and updated into contemporary Chinese families as a form of construction of daily family life.
Putting it in one sentence, this book talks about the politics of fear in Maoist campaigns, how this is remembered in memories of the Cultural Revolution and why generations do not meet in China.

Short bio:
Sascha Klotzbücher is currently the acting Professor for “Chinese society and economy” in this semester. He works as post-doctoral assistant professor at the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna in Austria.


January 2020
16:00 - 18:00


Ostasiatisches Seminar


VG 4.105