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Proletarian White and Working Bodies in Mao's China

Proletarian White and Working Bodies in Mao's China positions 11:2 Fall 2003 to the political culture of the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s and 1960s. Beyond body and mind, Mao peppered his commentary concerning why students of his generation disliked physical education with references to clothing. He wrote, “Our country has always stressed literary accomplishment. People blush to wear short clothes.”2 Mao explained students’ reluctance to engage in physical activity in terms of sartorial and societal expectations. “Flowing garments, a slow gait, a grave, calm gaze—these constitute a fine deportment, respected by society. Why should one suddenly extend an arm or expose a leg, stretch and bend down?”3 He continued by advising May Fourth readers on the proper relationship between clothing, body, and exercise: “The best way is to exercise twice a day—on getting up and before going to bed—in the nude; the next best way is to wear light clothes. Too much clothing impedes movement.”4 Mao’s comments configured clothing, mind, and body as a socially embedded complex central to one’s identity and one’s ability to contribute to the new society. Mao argued that change in consciousness could not occur unless accompanied by an understanding of the minimally clothed savage body as fundamental to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

Proletarian White and Working Bodies in Mao's China

positions asia critique , Volume 11 (2) – Sep 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-11-2-361
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 11:2 Fall 2003 to the political culture of the People’s Republic of China in the 1950s and 1960s. Beyond body and mind, Mao peppered his commentary concerning why students of his generation disliked physical education with references to clothing. He wrote, “Our country has always stressed literary accomplishment. People blush to wear short clothes.”2 Mao explained students’ reluctance to engage in physical activity in terms of sartorial and societal expectations. “Flowing garments, a slow gait, a grave, calm gaze—these constitute a fine deportment, respected by society. Why should one suddenly extend an arm or expose a leg, stretch and bend down?”3 He continued by advising May Fourth readers on the proper relationship between clothing, body, and exercise: “The best way is to exercise twice a day—on getting up and before going to bed—in the nude; the next best way is to wear light clothes. Too much clothing impedes movement.”4 Mao’s comments configured clothing, mind, and body as a socially embedded complex central to one’s identity and one’s ability to contribute to the new society. Mao argued that change in consciousness could not occur unless accompanied by an understanding of the minimally clothed savage body as fundamental to

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2003

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