In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture

Overview

China, Geremie R. Barmé notes, has become one of the greatest writing and publishing nations on the planet, and both cultural activists and the state are embroiled in debates about the production and distribution of its cultural products. But what happens when global culture and Chinese capitalist-socialism meet in the marketplace? In the Redinvestigates what goes on behind the rhetoric of the official Chinese government and the dissident community and provides a unique perspective on mainstream Western ...

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Overview

China, Geremie R. Barmé notes, has become one of the greatest writing and publishing nations on the planet, and both cultural activists and the state are embroiled in debates about the production and distribution of its cultural products. But what happens when global culture and Chinese capitalist-socialism meet in the marketplace? In the Redinvestigates what goes on behind the rhetoric of the official Chinese government and the dissident community and provides a unique perspective on mainstream Western perceptions of cultural developments, artistic freedom, and popular lifestyles in China today.

Illustrated with fascinating cartoons and photographs and rich with facts, anecdotes, and events, In the Red exposes the complex relationship between "official" culture (produced, supported, or sanctioned by the government) and "nonofficial" or countercultures (especially among urban youths and dissidents). Two key and contrasting events loom large in this narrative: the 1989 protests that ended with the June 4 massacre and a nationwide purge, and Deng Xiaoping's 1992 "tour of the south," in which he emphasized the need for radical economic reform. Although a level of political tolerance has evolved since the 1970s, Barmé sheds light on the significance of the intermittent denunciations of artists, ideas, and works.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review - Nicholas D. Kristof

Barmé knows China well [and] has occasionally feuded with Chinese cultural icons.... Here, he surveys the cultural warfare since the reform era began in 1978 and emphasizes the way a rich counterculture has flowered despite the authorities'deep misgivings and periodic purges.

Booklist - Joe Collins

A factual look at a cultural revolution that is happening without artist or government realizing it.

New York Times Book Review
Barmé knows China well [and] has occasionally feuded with Chinese cultural icons.... Here, he surveys the cultural warfare since the reform era began in 1978 and emphasizes the way a rich counterculture has flowered despite the authorities'deep misgivings and periodic purges.

— Nicholas D. Kristof

Booklist
A factual look at a cultural revolution that is happening without artist or government realizing it.

— Joe Collins

Library Journal
The author, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Australian National University and the author of three books (including Shades of Mao, M.E. Sharpe, 1996), has observed Chinese popular culture for 30 years. His book may seem too long for a work that focuses only on the ten years in China since the 1989 Tiananmen mass protest movement, but it has a swift and lively pace. Barm 's thesis--that popular culture has developed ways for people to express dissatisfaction without attacking the government--is substantiated through his analyses of music, comic books, television shows, ad jingles, screen savers, and T-shirts. One example that epitomizes this theme is a slogan on a T-shirt, fanzhe ne, bie li wo--"I'm pissed, leave me alone." He discusses the ways in which self-repression (and self-loathing) has become a form of high art and provides unprecedented discussion of the alienated fringe element that has been observed but not understood by Western journalists and China watchers. This work has a broader perspective than Jianying Zha's China Pop (LJ 4/1/95) and would thus be an appropriate selection for libraries that focus on international relations, China, and communications.--Peggy Spitzer Christoff, Oak Park, IL
Booknews
Barm<'e> Australian National University questions mainstream western perceptions of cultural developments, artistic freedom, and popular lifestyles in modern China. Focusing on the past two decades, he delves into the complex relationship between official culture produced, supported, or sanctioned by the government and the unofficial or countercultures, especially among urban youths and dissidents. His account includes cartoons, advertisements, photographs, and anecdotes. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231106153
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2000
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Geremie R.Barmé is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the Australian National University. He is the author of Shades of Mao: The Posthumous Career of a Great Leader and the editor of several books, including (with Linda Jaivin) New Ghosts. Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices and (with John Minford) Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience. He has also translated two volumes of Chinese essays and was a coauthor of and advisor for the documentary film The Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Culture in the Red1: The Chinese Velvet Prison2: An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove3: Traveling Heavy4: The Apotheosis of the Liumang5: The Graying of Chinese Culture6: Consuming t-shirts in Beijing7: Packaged Dissent8: Artful Marketing9: ccptm & Adcult prc10: To Screw Foreigners Is Patriotic11: Kowtowing to the Vulgar12: Totalitarian NostalgiaPostscript: Springtime in BeijingAppendix: Screw You, TooChinese GlossaryIndex

Columbia University Press

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