Laurence Coderre, Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, (2016-17 recipient)
Laurence Coderre is a scholar of modern China whose work focuses on the socialist and postsocialist cultural production of the People’s Republic. Her manuscript, “Newborn Socialist Things: Media, Materiality, and the Commodity-Form in the Chinese Cultural Revolution,” takes aim at the predominant account of Chinese economic reform (1978-present). Predicated on a notion of rupture between the now-repudiated Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and China’s turn to the market, this developmentalist narrative holds that, with the exception of the likeness and words of Mao Zedong, the media and material culture of the Cultural Revolution comprised a void out of which the postsocialist world of commodity consumption somehow sprang fully formed. Through the analysis of particularly salient material objects—loudspeakers, retail counters, textbooks, porcelain statuettes, amateur bodies, and vanity mirrors—as well as the Chinese socialist conceptions of materiality and the commodity such objects engender and reflect, Coderre argues that the Cultural Revolutionary media environment in fact anticipated the rampant commodification of the contemporary era in a number of crucial ways.