China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: The concept and practice of work under socialism has been well-analyzed, but its counterpart, leisure, has attracted attention only more recently. Leisure activities in socialist states—including game-playing, collecting, fandom and more—also underwent a vast rethinking and redefinition. With reference to the broader context of socialism as it existed in the Soviet Union and other countries, this multi-disciplinary panel evaluates leisure in socialist China, with a focus on the experiences of the 1950s. The questions we consider include the relationship between work and leisure, state actions in molding leisure time and activities, resistance to state ideas of how leisure should be experienced, the pre-histories of hobbies and how they were reformed, and bridges into the postsocialist world.
Wendy Larson’s presentation on stamp collecting in 1950s China shows how philately journals tried to wrench collecting into the socialist sphere, a difficult task. Examining chess and card-playing in literature in the work of famous writers of the 1950s, Xian Wang shows how leisure and hobbies are inextricably intertwined with socialist labor in the 1950s, and how later authors reinterpreted the same activities. Daisy Du also transverses socialist and postsocialist periods, examining letters written to animators and magazine editors and tracing the way in which viewers raised questions about animated films, sometimes twisting their intended messages. Yifan Shi’s presentation shows how the CCP organized collective and participatory leisure activities, slowly transforming the entire field.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Wendy Larson – University of Oregon
Virtual Paper Presenter: Xian Wang – University of Notre Dame
Virtual Paper Presenter: Daisy Yan Du – Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Virtual Paper Presenter: Yifan Shi – East China Normal University