Forbidden Fruit: Plundering the Meanings of Melons in Modern China
3: Imperial Melons & Garlic Chives
Saturday, March 26, 2022
10:30am – 12:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 303B
Geremie R. Barme
Asia Society, New Zealand
On the eve of the pharaonic celebrations of the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on 1 July 2021, Xi Jinping led his politburo colleagues to visit Fengze Yuan in Zhongnanhai (http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/leaders/2021-06/26/c_1127601143.htm). The garden complex contained Mao Zedong’s former residence as well as fields cultivated by the Kangxi Emperor as part of his agricultural experiments. The emperor pursued his plantings in the Imperial Melon Garden at the Imperial Hunting Villa at Chengde. Previously, the physiocratic vision of Kangxi and the rural-political nexus central to the Mao era featured in my 2008 study ‘Beijing, a Garden of Violence’ (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14649370802386552). This paper will consider the dual heritages of imperial vision and high Maoist policy in the era of Stalinist-Confucian cultivation under Xi Jinping. It is one marked by cultivation of human crops, the scything of ‘garlic chives’ and the harvesting of data.