Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951

The rise and ultimate victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese civil war, and Mao’s galvanizing intervention into the Korean War, was accompanied and supported by a wave of cultural propaganda that depicted the CCP as the strongest defenders and representatives of the Chinese nation. This paper looks at an array of cartoons from the late 1940s and early 50s to argue that depictions of walls were a consistent element in CCP graphic propaganda, and that xenophobia encouraged by the Party helped to entwine together external and internal enemies into a single malevolent image. Concurrently, the Soviet Union was carefully depicted itself as a kind of bulwark of pacificism and anti-imperialist strength, and Mao Zedong’s nationalistic credentials were strengthened via cartoons that posed him as both outward-looking helmsman and defender. Situated within a broader investigation of the function of Chinese walls in history and modernity and originally presented at the University of Buffalo, the paper uses materials taken from the Edward Hunter propaganda collection, originally donated to the University of Wisconsin-Madison library.

The full text of the paper is available via pdf. (no paywall) via the link below.

Citation: Adam Cathcart, “Walls as Multivalent Icons in Early People’s Republican Cartoons, 1946-1951” in Chinese Walls in Time and Space: History, Medicine, Media, Law, Art, and Literature, Haun Saussy and Roge DesForges, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010) 175–210.

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