JM Chris Chang
- Mellon Fellow
- Columbia University
Communist Miscellany: The Paperwork of Revolution
This project is a history of bureaucratic file-making and paperwork in Maoist China, considered through the institution of individual dossiers on Chinese subjects known as dang’an. Drawing upon a source base of deaccessioned case files, it examines how low-level communist bureaucrats counterbalanced contradictory imperatives to permanent revolution and socialist governance through scrupulous routines of information management and clerical labor. The investigative and file-keeping practices entailed by the dossier system illuminate bureaucratic approaches to issues of administration, local justice, and archive, while revealing fractures in a communist polity that often struggled to contain the impact of its own emancipatory ideology.
Revolutionary Routine: Grassroots Sources on Work, Family, and Private Life in Maoist China
This workshop brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to undertake intensive reading and discussion of selected 'grassroots sources' from the Fudan Social Life Data and Research Center. Through systematic readings of family letters, personnel dossiers, private diaries, work notes, and work unit archives, we explore questions of how the routines of political Maoism were enacted, mediated, and performed in everyday contexts as social routine. Our workshop engages this rich new stream of historical sources to draw attention to the rituals of Maoism as ordinary affairs, focusing on the banal settings of socialist life—the workplace, the school, and the family—as dynamic sites of structure and ideology.