‘Yelling at the Masses’: Making Propaganda Audible in the Communist Revolution


He Bixiao

China Report (2022): 1-13

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Abstract: This article, which is largely based on the Yan’an diary of the journalist Cormac Shanahan, a member of the delegation of Chinese and foreign journalists to Yan’an in 1944, and other relevant documents, seeks to investigate how this visit caused the Yan’an revolution to be seen and heard at a key moment when the Chinese Communists were in need of international recognition and support. A media landscape that had shifted from ‘being read’ to ‘being heard’ (and choosing what kind of revolutionary voice would be heard) and, most importantly, was geared towards auditory media amplified the voice of the Chinese Communist Party in its small corner of the world. This process underscores how the auditory media culture of the Yan’an period emphasised listening at the expense of the print media traditions of individual thinking and public debate within the context of the mediatised politics prevailing in China since the late Qing Dynasty. Additionally, this work provides new insight into how auditory media contributed to radicalisation during the Chinese Revolution and Chinese Communist Revolution and to communist consolidation in the reform era.

About the author: He Bixiao was a HYI Chinese Politics Training Program Visiting Scholar from 2016-17).