Thesis ID: CBB779355783

Reunified through Radio: Media, Technology, and Politics in Modern China 1923–1958 (2020)


Alekna, John Norman (Author)
Chen, Janet (Advisor)

Princeton University
Chen, Janet
Publication date: 2020
Language: English

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 320

Reunified through Radio: Media, Technology, and Politics in Modern China 1923–1958 reinterprets the rise of mass media and mass politics in China through the lens of communication technology. Radio first arrived in China in the winter of 1922–23, bursting into a world where communication was slow and disjointed, where less than ten percent of the population ever read newspapers—and these often took days or weeks to reach even relatively proximate locations. Just thirty-five years later, at the beginning of the Great Leap Forward, radio broadcasts reached hundreds of millions of people instantaneously, every day. Tracing the history of radio in China from its introduction in the 1920s through to the peak of Maoist totalitarianism in the Great Leap Forward, the project shows how radio transformed news, information, and governance. Trained radio monitors, posted in rural districts from the early 1930s onward, transcribed, reproduced, and redistributed news, information, and educational content broadcast from government stations. By the mid-1950s every county in China had such a monitoring post—most more than one. Thus, the project rebalances the story of the growth of mass media by integrating wireless and rural areas into a previously urban and print-centered narrative. While altering the flow of news and information, radio also coordinated mass mobilization campaigns, distributed government policies and implementation guidelines, and enforced compliance through shaming and public awareness of the ‘correct line’. By bringing central government movements and directives to rural areas where ninety percent of the population lived, radio technology reordered the political geography of China, creating the space for a reorganized and powerful Chinese state in the latter half of the twentieth century. In this way, the project reinterprets the history of the rise of mass politics in China; it should not be understood as arising from war, the introduction of party organization, or ideology alone. It must also be understood through the lens of technological development.

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Authors & Contributors
Slotten, Hugh Richard
Arceneaux, Noah
Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette
Dunbar-Hester, Christina
Fickers, Andreas
Frost, Gary Lewis
Technology and Culture
Cold War History
American Quarterly
Australian Journal of Politics and History
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Diplomatic History
Oxford University Press
Cornell University
Yale University
Columbia University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Communication technology
Technology and politics
Methods of communication; media
Broadcasting, radio and television
Technology and culture
Armstrong, Edwin Howard
Time Periods
20th century, early
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
21st century
United States
Great Britain
Radio Corporation of America
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

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