Chapter

The Enemy Within

Lee Haiyan

in The Stranger and the Chinese Moral Imagination

Published by Stanford University Press

Published in print November 2014 | ISBN: 9780804785914
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780804793544 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.11126/stanford/9780804785914.003.0006
The Enemy Within

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In the 1960s, a provincial museum converted from the former residence of a local landlord became nationally famous for its ideologically charged exhibitions. Chapter 5 approaches the Liu Wencai Manor House Museum in Sichuan as a material and visual cultural text participating in the process in which a local tyrant was turned into the archetype of the landlord class and enemy of the socialist nation—thus unwanted strangers to be violently ejected. It analyzes the Water Dungeon narratives and the sculptures of the Rent Collection Courtyard as specimens of socialist art that mobilized class racist ideology and ritual aesthetics to articulate the Maoist conception of the political. Emphasizing the nationalist face of Chinese communism which racialized and depoliticized class, this chapter argues that the museum relied on the fetishism of rent grain to foreclose a genuine Marxist critique of emergent class formations in post-1949 Chinese society.

Keywords: Liu Wencai; landlord class; manor house museum; Water Dungeon; Rent Collection Courtyard; chengfen; class racism; communist nationalism; socialist horror; fetishism

Chapter.  15792 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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