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Title: Resisting amnesia : April 1976 and the challenge to state control of China's visual world
Author: Mulloy, Martin
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 9094
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines the significance of the unauthorised independent photography of the April Fifth Movement during the April 1976 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. These were the first large-scale expressions of popular resistance to the ruling Chinese Communist Party since the birth of the People's Republic in 1949. The unofficial photographic documentation of this key moment in modern Chinese history was the first significant rupture in the state's monolithic and coercive control of all visual media. 1976 was a watershed moment in modern China, with the death of premier Zhou Enlai in January, mass demonstrations of discontent in April, the Tangshan earthquake in July, the death of Mao Zedong in September, the subsequent arrest of the Gang of Four and the ending of the ten-year calamity of the Cultural Revolution. In a year of tectonic political changes, the April Fifth photographers ignited a resistance to the culture and practice of state amnesia, the conscious forgetting and reframing of both memory and historical narrative which remains a profound feature of modern China. The thesis also reappraises the oftenoverlooked April Photo Society, which emerged from the April Fifth Movement of 1976, and reconstructs the history of their formation and seminal exhibitions: it also considers their impact as a catalyst for a renaissance of Chinese photography, in their self-declared independence, opening up of new public exhibition spaces and revival of proscribed photographic genres. Both the April Fifth photographers and the April Photo Society signalled a profound change in the visual image world of China, affecting not only the nature of contemporary independent photography but also of official visual practice and discourse in modern China. The thesis considers the impact of their resistance to state amnesia from a mnemonic perspective and explores the many memory practices which have emerged since in the contest of meaning, memory and historical narrative in modern China.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available