Thomas Chan G'17
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Pre-dissertation Grants for Research in China 2017
University of California, San Diego
Bottoms-Up History: Maoism, Maotai, and the Building of the Chinese Nation, 1949-1976
My proposed dissertation project examines how Chinese Communist Party leaders infused Maotai, a hard liquor from Guizhou province, with ideological and cultural meanings in order to bolster support for their new regime. I argue that Maotai's state-led development shows how globalization, violence, and market forces played prominent roles in the creation and maintenance of the Maoist regime. In doing so, I argue that in certain aspects, China's era of high socialism possessed capitalist characteristics. My research draws on the internal archives of the Maotai factory, oral histories of the workers and residents of Maotai village, government policy documents regarding the distribution and sale of Maotai, advertisements, propaganda stories, newspaper articles, and factory export records.