The conference was titled "Shanghai Story," implying an attempt to illuminate how Shanghai came into being the epicenter of modern China's genesis, politically, economically, and culturally. But, as Professor Yeh Wen Hsin pointed out in the round table discussion that ended the conference, even the title "Shanghai Story" is problematic. She claimed that stories, in essence, have a beginning, middle and end. But when and where does this story start? That is a historical question that is difficult to determine.
The purpose of this conference was to look at Shanghai's story from the perspective of visual culture. One of the main topics was photography. Three great presentations that stuck out in my mind were by Professor Gu Zheng and Professor Sarah Fraser. Professor Gu's presentation outlined a photography project, commissioned by the Japanese government in 1937-1938, that was meant to show wartime China directly after the invasion. The photographs, which showed Shanghai people in a sympathetic state, was meant to be wartime propaganda, demonstrating to both Japanese and Chinese that the Japanese invasion should be welcome. However, through these photographs, Shanghai was essentially "visually reproduced" during the war, for both Japanese and Chinese, and many of the pictures emphasized China's colonization by the West and the necessity of an Asian rescuer. Professor Fraser's presentation explored photographs of Chinese people taken by Europeans in the late 19th century, and then compared them to later photographs taken by Chinese photographers of ethnic minorities in Western China. Fraser's argument is that the style, subject matter, and purpose behind both of these types of photographs were strikingly similar. While Western people took photographs of Chinese people to show their backwardness, primitiveness, and static and unmodern status. Similarly, the Chinese Republican government reused these similar types of photographs in their anthropological studies of the Tibetans, Yi, and Miao races in Western China. She claims that through these photographs, a clear understanding of the "modern citizen" was born through representation of the "other." The third presentation by professor Jin Tao was about photographs of women . She looked at photos of sing and dance girls from the 1920s and 1930s and attempted to argue their main purpose: to fulfill men's desires or to promote a healthy body image for women? She argues that there are two elements that a woman should strive for in her physical appearance: health and beauty, and sex and desire. At the same time, many of these photographs also gave a visual perception of the modern, which embraced visual examples of health and sex.
A lot of important theoretical ideas can come from these presentations. First, in a larger sense, the importance of photography as a medium should be explored (which it was at this conference). At the round table discussion, Professor Thomas Bender explained how photography can have many purposes: the can allow us to recognize what we already know, allow us to discover things missing in texts, and most importantly, they can be performative, in the sense that they make things happy. Professor Gu's presentation represented this, in that the publishing of the Shanghai wartime photos recreated Shanghai in the minds of Japanese and Chinese, giving new justifcations for war and a new self image. I also thought that professor Fraser's argument was quite compelling because I see similarities in the way that minorites are photographed today. Advertisements in China do not show them as backwards and primitive, but do maintain a certain amount of "tradition" and at the same time, appeal through the exotic and the sexual. Just like Geisha and female hostesses were photographed and advertised in the West as an exotic and beautiful reason to visit Asia, now beautiful minority women are photographed in their traditional clothes and put on display for Chinese tourists. Even the pictures advertising the Olympics and (more visible to me) the Shanghai Expo show minorities greeting the world and the Expo with traditional gifts in traditional clothes, while the Han people greet them with a modern background in expensive Western clothing. I find this somewhat echoes Dr. Fraser's argument, although I admit, I have not done enough research on ethnic tourism to completely substantiate my argument.
Another medium that was explored was film. Dr. Pickowicz did a presentation on 1920's Chinese films (which he claims have been largely neglected, which is a mistake) and Professor Jin Jiang presented on the play/movie Stage Sisters. Professor Pickowicz argued that the 1920's films, while not being particularly political, were important because of their statements about modern marriages. The three films he looked at, Oceans of Passion, Orphan in the Snow, and A String of Pearls, show that modern marriages, while being a much better alternative to traditional marriages, did not have one particular model to follow. Instead, the movies showed that the modern marriage still had a lot of problems, and that it was largely dependent on both emotional and material needs of both the women and the men. Professor Jiang's presentation explored the 1965 movie Stage Sisters and its 1998 adaptation. She argues that while the former was largely political and worked with a revolutionary discourse, the latter works backwards, eliminating the political elements and looking more closely at female and sisterly love.
Dr. Pickowicz's presentation explored some extremely important theoretical and methodological ideas. First of all, as both he and professor Bender explored, the medium of film itself is unique among many visual mediums. It is with film that an audience can more actively participate in the action, and vicariously play out their own fantasies. He called this "fantastical participation," and for a film to be popular, it had to reach people, and especially women, on this level of allowing them to actively participate in the character's struggles and positions. The ability to reach people on this level makes films unique, and it is unique to the modern world. Another concept that Professor Pickowicz explored is the importance of the national and international. He showed that in all of his films, this place called "China" was essentially absent; also, all three of these films were extremely popular throughout Southeast Asia. Therefore, these themes and ideas, as well as the possibility for audience fantastical participation, spanned across national lines. As Dr. Bender noted, oftentimes city culture can travel in a way that national culture does not. Dr. Pickowicz argued that perhaps, instead of only looking to the past 30 years for examples of globalization, we can see it much earlier than that in the ability of cultural models to transfer on an international stage. Thus, when we explore things like magazines, movies, and photographs, we should look beyond pointing to the beginnings of nationalism and look at both the global and the local levels.
Many other presentations looked at other interesting historical sources. Professor Christian Henriot presented on the creation of space through novels, an idea that I had never thought about but was incredibly revealing. He argues that in novels, time and space are created in order to both facilitate a story and to make a point about geography itself. In essence, by carefully choosing which events occur where and when, an author can make a powerful statement about his own understanding of geographic space. Professor Henriot explored 3 novels written about Shanghai, all three of which made statements about the author's understanding of the city geography and cultural construction. As another historical medium, Professor Andrew Field explored dance halls and caberets in modern Shanghai as a creation of urban modernity. Field traced the beginnings and subsequent popularization of dance halls in China from the 1910s into the 1930s. While making a series of really interesting arguments about the reformation of jazz for the Chinese setting and the politicization of dance halls, I found most interesting his thesis concerning the orientalizing transfer of dance halls from the West. Originally, dance halls in the West were meant to be sources of lewd behavior made acceptable by the presence of "oriental" women. The first dance halls in Europe were filled with Turkish harems and other women from the east, making the more sexualized behavior appropriate because of the inclusion of the "other." However, when caberets and jazz bars were imported to the east, they were packaged as the epitome of class and society in the West. In essence, the East comes to the West and then circles back to the East as a Western import. I believe this happens a lot, if not through popular cute toys and even cheesy souvenirs now sold in the East only to Western tourists.
Another interesting topic was the creation and architecture of public parks, as presented by Dr. Dorothee Rihal. She explained that parks are "purely Western and modern." They have a variety of purposes: recreation, relaxation, aesthetic beauty, and a recreation of natural landscape. But, as Professor Rihal pointed out, in China they inhabited a unique space. They became a symbol not only of Western modernity but also of racial and colonial tensions, as their purpose of "public" space brought them to the forefront as far as racial tensions. Similarly, they became a method for Western colonial powers to absorb space which were not included in the original concession; many of the parks lay outside the international concession boundaries. To that effect, they also were important to budding artists at the time, as while they had recreational purposes, they were also aesthetic, offering an ideal natural landscape in the modern city.
These are only some of the "精彩" (a word used by almost every Chinese professor or student who asked a question) presentations, and of course there were more. These presentations stuck out in my head because of some of the issues they raised: the performative role of photography, the tension between the local, national, and global, important non literary sources, new ways of looking at literary sources, etc. I also think that these presentations stuck out in my mind because I found them as related to both my past and present research. It also opened my mind to sources yet to be fully explored. I wish I could have understood more of the discussion, and I wish I had had more time to talk to all of the professors. But I guess I will have time for a lot of this in grad school.
I found Karl Gerth's presentation really interesting because of the more theoretical issues it raises. He argues that the attack on capitalists and consumers by the Communist party cannot be understood simply in the context of early Communist policy; in fact, much of the justifcation for the anticonsumer/anticapitalist policies and the main reason it was so accepted was because of earlier practices and situations of market capitalism in the 1930s and earlier. That is to say, much of the justification the Nationalists gave for high spending and buying national goods was recycled to justify state ownership of all market activity in the 1950s. This is important I think because much too often we make a clear break from before 1949 to after 1949, refusing to acknowledge the fact that much of Communist policy was borrowed from earlier political and cultural models.
A few presentations taught me events and ideas that I had never even known about. Sen Pingchong's 森平崇's presentation talked about the cultural figure Ah Fei, a symbol of rowdy and disobedient children (from what I understood of the presentation). He shows how the figure Ah Fei and his stories, which cropped up in movies and books, represents a cultural model based upon American culture, a wanton unfilial lifestyle that should be avoided. In pictures, he reminds me of Elvis, with high hair that looks like an airplane, holding a cigarrette and mainly being immoral. The Ah Fei campaigns became most popular in 1950 and 1957. He argues that Ah Fei was important in 1950 because of the early communist campaign to wipe out American and Guomindang influence, especially through movies. There was a resurgence of Ah Fei's story again in 1957 because, while American movies and other media influences had mostly been elimintated, there still existed many of the institutions associated with Ah Fei's American deviant behavior, such as coffee shops; also, rock and roll had become popular, and it was immediately associated with Ah Fei. One of the professors during the free discussion time pointed out that the "Anti Ah Fei culture" was not exclusive to China, and in fact this cultural stereotype was equally attacked in the United States at the same time.
Another interesting fact I learned through these presentations was that in 1969, the Communist party, fearing a Soviet nuclear attack, evacuated a large portion of Tianjin's population and dispersed them throughout the countryside. In this process, they lost their urban residence cards, thus making them ineligible for higher living stipends and other benefits. Jeremy Brown's presentation explores this dynamic, showing that the Communist's reasons for this campaign was not only national defense but also domestic.
There were a few great presentations on Soviet-Chinese relations and comparisons. You Ji's presentation explains how the alliance deteriorated over the 1950s, explaining this deterioration over a battle for control and the Chinese desire to maintain autonomy in decision making. Izabella Goikhman's presentation explains the academic interactions among Chinese and Soviets. I found it interesting that, as Goikhman explained, there were limits on both sides as to how much they would share or use, but many of the limits were determined not by the government, but instead by the scientists themselves. The Soviet scientists were not given clear instructions on how much to share with the Chinese, and it was up to their judgment. Martin Dimitrov, the non historian of the group, compared Soviet and Chinese models in dealing with ethnic minorities. He showed that because of certain factors, it is not surprising at all that racial tensions led to the downfall of the USSR while China has maintained its sovereignty over its minority populations. These factors include: the percentage of minorities (Russia is only 51 percent Russian while China is 92 percent Han); the right of minorities to secede in the constitution (the USSR constitution gave that right to minorities, China's constitution does not); levels of urbanization (in China, the level of urbanization is much lower in provinces with many minorities whereas in the USSR it was much higher in high minority regions); and levels of education and social programs (in the USSR many minority groups had education levels above the national average while in China the level of education for minorities is below the national average. Interestingly, health care and welfare benefits is much higher for minority provinces than the national average).
There were also a few presentations which I found interesting and unique. Li Peide 李培德 from Hong Kong University gave a presentation on Hong Kong movies during the Cold War. In the 1950s, when the Hong Kong film industry was really taking off, Hong Kong was stuck at a crossroads between Taiwan and the PRC. While the Hong Kong film industry was influenced by a certain competitve atmosphere, the largest struggle it had to contend with was political pressure from Taiwan and China, both of which wanted to influence the movie industry in this critical location. Another interesting presentation, simply because of my past research, was Chen Yan's 陈雁 presentation on the New Chinese woman. She compared magazine pictures from the 1930s and from today, showing how in both these times, femininity and fashion were admired, and the ideal woman was one who presented her femininity through her clothes, makeup, and decorum. In contrast to that, in the women's magazine "New Chinese Woman" (新中国妇女）the ideal woman was quite difference. Femininity was not emphasized. Instead, women were shown as leaders in the new China, they drove trains, they worked in fields, they defended their countries, and the reared good revolutionary children. One problem I found with Professor Chen's argument, however, is that I found a lot of crossover from the 1930s woman and the New China woman. She used the magazine Ling Long for her comparison (a magazine with which I am quite familiar), and she claimed that Ling Long only emphasized this feminity like today's women's magazines. However, while they were few in number, there were still a substantial number of articles in Ling Long that emphasized female patriotism, female soldiers, and most importantly, female education; in fact, the emphasis on education was not slight, but a prevalent theme throughout the magazine. Thus, as Karl Gerth pointed out, making a clear break at 1949 doesn't work, as there is always a lot of cultural overlap between the two periods.
The conference was fascinating, and I learned a lot from these professors. I am now looking forward to another conference, beginning Friday, where I hope to absorb even more information.
One of the themes that is prevalent throughout textbooks, especially the hygiene and everyday knowledge textbooks, is the emphasis on a controlled sense of time and space. Culp mentions this briefly in Articulating Citizenship, in which he claims that the Nationalist government instituted strict control over the school day in terms of schedules, classroom arrangement, free time, etc. He claims that this strict control over time and space contributes to creating an environment that mirrors a transition to industrialization. He claims "such organization an control of time as a valued resource, and the coordination of simultaneous collective activities, reflected the shifting conceptions of time that have accompanied industrialization, with its commodification and synchronization of labor." Similarly, Culp claims that a control of space allows an individual to understand his "generic self as an individual citizen in relation to the composite whole of a wider community."
I believe it goes beyond this, as it not only represents a shifting perception of time and space, but a control over the body. By controlling the body, the government can create and mold a certain sense of citizenship that is very real and tangible. Being a citizen was not only imagined, it involved a bodily participation in ritualistic behavior, and the body existed within a certain space and time with others; this new perception of space and time in essence changed the body, conforming it to the "Chinese citizen," which was defined by the government.
This is evident in textbooks. Hygiene and everyday knowledge textbooks both give children a certain sense of controlled time and behavior. They often begin with chapters that tell children to get up early. The first few chapters of each book then bring a child throughout his or her day: get up at a set time, brush teeth and wash face, go to school on time, return home on time, eat dinner at a set time, and go to bed early. Also included in some hygiene textbooks are that children should defecate at the same time every day, that children should learn how to tell time (in later textbooks, when clocks were more common) and how to keep a schedule, and what children should do during set time periods, such as "this is what we do during recess time." This sense of controlled time is also expanded to include holidays; most everyday knowledge textbooks include an explanation of certain rituals and activities on important holidays, including October 10th (GMD National day) Children's Day in April, and Sun Yat Sen's birthday. All of these contribute to this controlled sense of time, where children are forced into a certain understanding of time wherein their experience is limited to that of the ideal Chinese citizen, thus compelling them to assume that role.
There is a similar attempt for control of space. Everyday knowledge textbooks include many chapters that describe "the place that I live" "my home" "our classroom" "where we eat" "how to decorate our rooms" etc. Similarly, hygiene textbooks emphasize the environment and cleanliness of the classroom, and chapters on "public hygiene" (公共卫生） talk about the importance of classroom organization. Similarly, teachers’ manuals demonstrate the importance of designing the classroom in a specific way so as to ensure a controlled sense of uniform space.
However, that which is most evident was the government attempt to control the way that children use and handle their own bodies. This concept has been discussed by scholars before; Wang Zheng and Susan Brownell (to name a few) have talked about the importance of the body in creating the ideal citizen. In fact, Mark Elliot discussed the connection of body, time, space, and identity in early China. However, while “hygiene” to us implies cleanliness, to these textbooks it implies much more. Of course there is a heavy emphasis on keeping one’s body clean and free of disease, but there are also chapters on posture, on how to walk in a straight line, on how to exercise, which clothes to wear in the winter, how to greet guests, etc. This echoes a few ideas. First, it echoes Henrietta Harrison’s idea of public ritual in creating the modern citizen through dress and behavior. Similarly, it is reminiscent of a current Chinese public campaign that was put into full swing around the time of the Olympics. The purpose behind this particular campaign was to teach people to be very “文明” or civilized in order to show the world how “first world” China was. This included a smoking ban, harsh penalties for spitting areas where one shouldn’t spit, and to get on and off the subway in a 文明 sort of way. All of these ideas (the subway, obviously, excluded) are included in these textbooks as a way to control behavior through the body. In some ways, this process almost echoes the process explained in Elias’ Civilizing process, with one large difference: all of these changes are not compelled by society, but are compelled by a government desparately wanting to create a modern Chinese citizenry.
There are a few more important points to consider. One of these points is that the control of time, space, and behavior is not limited to the school day; many of the chapters attempt to control behavior and time at home. A teacher’s manual claimed that children spent nearly 2/3 of their time at home, and thus, that time needed to be controlled within the house. This shows the government’s attempt to create this sense of controlled space both at school and at home. Another important point to consider is that much of this control of the body was not only to control personal behavior, but to place one’s body into a group dynamic. Even chapters such as “大家的东西” and “大家的事”imply an attempt to create a collective identity among children. This collective identity would change depending upon where the book was published and when; the Guomindang books emphasized the importance of Chinese collective, while those published for overseas Chinese, especially after 1949, emphasized a more multiracial and international collective.
A final point to consider is that almost all of these examples come from early textbooks, for children ages 7 to 9. In the upper volumes of the elementary school textbooks and in the middle school textbooks, there is less blatant instruction on how to behave. For instance, instead of telling children to brush their teeth and use the bathroom at certain times in the day, the chapters explain the scientific reasons behind maintaining oral hygiene. This shows us that this sense of space and time was to be established very early on, and once the parameters of a citizen’s existence were created at a young age, hygiene became much more of a physical science class rather than a behavioral class.
There are, of course, other examples I did not list here, but this shows an overall attempt to create a certain kind of citizen by limiting the space within which a child can create his own sense of time, space, behavior, and bodily action. By manifesting citizenry in this very physical way, a child’s entire outlook on life is determined by the parameters set. This is not foreign to us today. Americans are still shocked when they go to China and hear others spitting; in fact, the sound itself creates a Pavlovian response of nausea or discomfort. Similarly, we take for granted how on time we are expected to be. For us, classes start at a certain time, buses come at a certain time (as opposed to many places where buses leave when they are full). Desks in a classroom are consciously organized in a certain way; a circle implies discussion, rows facing towards the front imply lecture. This is not just for practical reasons, it is meant to create a certain type of behavior. And even in college, if desks are in disarray, the first students who arrive often spend time managing the desks into an “orderly” fashion. This understanding affects our identity; we are the product of a “modern” nation, and we are prepared to be as such because our schedule determines it that way. However, in China, it was not maintaining a system, but creating it, which is why these rules and ideas had to be a part of the curriculum. It was through this curriculum that all children could be on the same page, prepared to accept an identity as a modern citizen.
 Robert Culp. Articulating Citizenship. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007: 167-169.
南洋书局编。南洋初小常识教学法 (第三册). 新加坡：南洋书局有限公司，1948。
 All of this information comes from the following textbooks, unless specifically indicated: 最新南洋华侨小学常识课本教学法。新加坡：中华书局， 1939；徐允昭。小学卫生课本。 中华， 1933。上海图书馆；杨？如。 卫生课本 （高等）。世界书局印行。1933；文堇. 卫生课本 （初等）。世界书局印行。 1933。
赵楚为。小学教育参考书 （上）。上海商务， 1925。上海图书馆
The building is in a small courtyard near West Nanjing Road, which is much closer to where I live than the Shanghai Library. It shares this courtyard with the Mansion; I haven't figured out what the Mansion is yet, but it is built in colonial architecture and dates back nearly a century. The archive itself is a small dusty building made of cement (which makes it quite uncomfortable to look through the card catalog located near the door in a hallway where small heaters cannot reach). I asked for Wang Jihong, and a woman in a white coat paged her. Wang Jihong was a bustling and very sweet middle aged woman who asked me a lot of questions and was quite complimentary of me in a very sincere way. She and I chatted about education here and in America, about Fulbrights (a program with which she was quite familiar) and how she knew my advisor. Another man then came in and asked what I was doing my research on, and I told him in a vague way. He pressed me further， attempting to understand exactly what kind of material I wanted to look through. Finally, I understood that he was not making polite conversation and actually wanted to get me my materials, so I asked for elementary and middle school changshi and weisheng textbooks; he swiftly left the room and came back within 15 minutes with a stack of books, which I then proceeded to look through.
I didn't realize how lucky I was to be able to use these archives, however, until I went to the archives with a fellow history student from California who I had met through a mutual friend. She and I had both read Culp's article about the Cishu, and thus both assumed that a letter of introduction would suffice for being able to use the archives. When we went together, however, she and I were tossed around to a few people until they finally told her that, even though this was not open to the public, they would allow her to look at only a few materials as long as they were in good condition and were easy to find. Ms. Wang then explained to us that normally, it was necessary for her to have Chinese connections to be able to use this private archives, and part of the reason they allowed it is because she knew me, who knew Dr. Jiang, who new Ms. Wang. Such is the importance of 关系 (connections) in China.
All that being said, the staff is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable. They are also quite proud of their library, and are often engaging in conversations about how many foreign people come to their library. The staff and other researchers also love to engage me in conversations; one older man who often gets my materials had a long conversation with me about Japanese electronics (since my camera is a Nikon); he also found it funny that I wrote everything in traditional characters. The rules are not strict at all, like some other archives; they will fetch materials at any times of the day, they don't force us to leave during lunch, and while we cannot photocopy, we can take pictures for a small fee (half the price of the Shanghai library). Finding materials is slightly more difficult because the card catalog is only by title, although for earlier materials it is possible for them to do a subject search on the computer (this is not, however, possible for later materials, as they are only cataloged on the cards).
It is very clear that the library has a lot of material, and (as Culp's article suggests) anyone interested in education should definitely make use of their collection. It seems that having the support or letter from a Chinese professor, especially one that they know, is helpful in facilitating the process. Similarly, knowing exactly what kind of material you need to use seems to make them more likely to let you in. It is a great place, and I am excited to do more research there, as I know I will continue to find things that I could probably not find elsewhere.
An introduction to this archive can be found in:
Culp, Robert. "Research Note: Shanghai Lexicograhpical Publishing House Library's Holdings on Republican Period Popular Culture and Education." Modern China (2), 1997: 103-109.
In the huaqiao changshi textbook, many of the chapters remained the same as the similar version from the 1930s. The importance of waking up early, studying, being respectful to teachers, and staying clean and hygienic remain. There are still chapters on the various systems of the body, on the importance of vaccinations, and the history and geography of China.
The differences, however, reveal much about the kind of identity these textbooks wanted to create. The new curriculum textbooks of the 1930s were meant to give the huaqiao in Southeast Asia the impression that they are also part of China. Thus, there were many chapters on the flags of the GMD, Sun Yat Sen's biography and contribution to the building of a new China, the dangers of imperialism, and the importance of making China strong (one of my favorite chapters in the old textbook included a hierarchy of the world's strongest countries, simply to show what China had to strive for, seen on the right. I was disappointed that America was number 5). In the new textbook, all of these chapters are absent. In the history section, there is mention of Sun Yat Sen, but it is brief. The chapters about the various races of China remained, although edited with Communist information (instead of 5 races, there are now 56, seen below). However, the modern battle for China is largely ignored, and instead is replaced with ancient Chinese history, Chinese geography, chapters on Southeast Asia, and more and more chapters on bugs.
What I think we can take from this is that these textbooks wanted these huaqiao to feel Chinese, but perhaps Chinese in a Hong Kong sense. At this point, Hong Kong had no loyalties to either government, and instead prided itself on being an international section of greater China, committed to the greatness and richness of Chinese culture that developed over 3000 years, but entirely divorced from the battles of the present. This is also made evident through the pictures. One picture that immediately stuck out to me (probably because it seemed so American) was a picture in a chapter about children's day that showed 3 white children, 1 Chinese child, and a black child all holding hands and being happy (seen to the right). The only time in any other textbooks non Chinese people get photos is when there are chapters about the races of the world. This, however, showed a clear commitment to international harmony. Also, the clothes had changed drastically. The skirts were much shorter for women, and qipaos were rare (see morning exercise below). Instead, they almost looked like small American or British children. In a sense, the huaqiao's identity was now in the hands of Hong Kong; aware of China's vast geography and natural resources, aware of it's long history and Confucian culture, but not necessarily a nationalist or communist.
The Shanghai published textbook, however, took a very clear political stance; this shouldn't really surprise anyone since by 1961, when this textbook was published, everything was controlled and created by the Communist party. There are major themes we see in this volume of this textbook. The beginning few chapters are all history of China. The next few chapters are about basic science and elements, such as water, air, metal and steel. After that, the chapters are on physiology and health. Finally, the last few chapters are on astronomy and science, including the rotations of the earth, seasons, and the lunar calendar.
The history section was largely rewritten. The first man ever was actually found outside of Beijing. We then had the Shang dynasty which led to 10,000 years of feudalism, and apparently history was stagnant up until the 1840s when China had a threat from imperialist nations. The communist narrative for history shouldn't surprise us. But all of the information about science was equally politically revealing. There is a chart included in the book of Chinese steel production, seen on the lower right; since this textbook was published right around the time of the Great Leap Forward, steel was currently an important subject. However, there was also important historical ties that were created to steel; not only was it considered most important to our "socialist revolution" but bronze (which was the next chapter) was important culturally and historically in the bronze age. Although the textbook was important to point out that bronze was important for different things today (such as creating electrical wires), I believe this connection to the "bronze age" of Chinese history was meant to show the importance of these materials to Chinese people all throughout history. While the communists eschewed much of what came before them, they still took pride in the long history of their country. Similarly, all of the sections about astrology and science were crucial to a country trying to leap forward in modernity; before the Cultural Revolution, science was considered the most important of all subjects. Health was also important, because as Mao said: "a health body allows us to study and work well."
While it is possible that more ties to the Communist party and nationalism are made in other textbooks, or perhaps other volumes of this textbook, it seems that those ties have already been made quite clear. Instead, changshi has become "everyday knowledge we need to be productive members of the nation." The difference between cows and horses, and fun activities on children's day are no longer important. All of our knowledge comes back to making people working cogs of the communist nation.
These two textbooks create two very interesting discourses of what it means to be Chinese at this point. One is very clearly tied to the communist narrative, while one is very cultural and historical, but completely divorced from politics and more immersed in an international kind of environment. I believe, however, that as I find other textbooks, other narratives will begin to come forth.