Chinese Cultural Policy in the 20th Century

Chinese Cultural Policy in the 20th Century (1995-2005)

Cultural policy in twentieth-century China is the starting point for a series of reflections and projects carried out within the framework of this research group on the processes of heritagization.

The links between culture and politics were first explored in the context of a doctoral thesis about Beijing and Shaanxi Province between 1995 and 2000, funded by several institutions (a mobility Grant between the University of Lausanne and Peking, a Cantonal Grant of the Swiss Universities Central Office, and SNSF younger researcher’s fellowship).

Based on an extensive fieldwork in several districts of the Chinese capital as well as provincial cities and rural cultural villages in northern Shaanxi, cultural policy was approached from several angles.

These included a detailed study of the practice of yangge, a traditional folk dance ritual banned during the Cultural Revolution, but today practiced again widely following China’s reforms. The important place that this popular dance occupies in traditional and modern Chinese culture underlines the context both for the neighbourhood associations that practise it and for the bureaucratic frameworks of the cultural institutions that promote it. The popularity and ideological interest in yangge since the 1940s shed light on the processes of selection and categorisation of social and symbolic activities necessary for the construction of a cultural policy on a national scale and its inscription in public space.

Main publication:

  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. (2012). La danse du yangge. Culture et politique dans la Chine du XXe siècle. Paris, La Découverte.

Recent activities:

  • Graezer Bideau, Florence “Culture populaire et exercice du pouvoir en Chine”. Épisode 1 : Éduquer les masses par la culture et Épisode 2 : Culture populaire, un outil de contrôle social ?, Les Belles Heures, Université de Montréal, Canada, online, May 25 and June 1, 2023.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence. “Nurturing the socialist spiritual civilization: Interplay between anthropology and politics”, in The social fabric of “traditional culture” in the People’s Republic of China: dynamic articulation, domestic policy and soft power, April 24, 2021, Annual meeting of the Swiss Anthropological Association, Monte Verità, Tessin, Switzerland.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence, “Cultivating public space and yangge dance”, Symposium XJTLU Public Space Forum, Live zoom event, January 8 2021, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, RPC.
  • Graezer Bideau, Florence, “Anthropologically Beijing”, Conference Research methods in Landscape and Urban Studies, LUS PhD seminar SS20, 3 décembre 2020, ETHZ.