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Full referenceHe, Qiliang, "Between Accommodation and Resistance: Pingtan Storytelling in 1960s Shanghai" (2014)
TypeJournal article
Author(s)He, Qiliang
Title"Between Accommodation and Resistance: Pingtan Storytelling in 1960s Shanghai"
JournalModern Asian Studies
Start page524
End page549
Keywordssocial; culture; cultural
AbstractThis paper examines the resistance of pingtan storytellers to Communist political domination and economic exploitation on the eve of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). In the early and mid-1960s, storytellers rarely mounted resistance through direct confrontations with the political authorities, but often in ‘everyday forms’ such as by libelling cadres, asking for sick-leave, refusing to conform to the dress code during performances, and threatening to withdraw from troupes. In order to vent their disappointment at the economic hardships following the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961), storytellers resorted to the flexible ways of narrating and performing pingtan stories to manipulate the storylines and characterizations in their stage performances. Hence storytellers engaged in counter-propaganda by telling ribald jokes and distorting stories that were originally designed to praise Communist revolutions. This investigation of the resistance of storytellers, both on and off stage, is intended not merely to raise a long overlooked history of the 1960s from oblivion, but also to highlight the Party-state's inability to ideologically transform Chinese artists prior to the Cultural Revolution.
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