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Open Access Publications from the University of California

International and wartime origins of the propaganda state : the motion picture in China, 1897-1955

  • Author(s): Johnson, Matthew David
  • et al.

This dissertation is a study of elite efforts to master new technologies of political communication in twentieth- century China. In particular, it focuses on an unlikely pair of topics--cinema and state formation. While motion pictures are not often included in discussions of the media, they too have played a role in the creation and exercise of political power. Numerous choices have been made throughout modern Chinese history concerning the proper role of culture in state affairs. A central argument here is that propaganda activities have shaped mass media production from the moment of China's own "communications revolution" onward. Cinematic technologies --like those of the telegraph, radio, and journalistic press--were instantly appreciated for their powers to enhance political efficacy and shape mass opinion. The relentless pursuit of state prerogatives in each of these areas, partly in response to decades of foreign threat and social crisis, has creating an enduring institutional basis for centralized media management which has survived to the present day

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