Bourgeois Comfort under Proletarian Dictatorship: Shanghai, 1950–1976

History/Everyday life studies

The images of life in China under Mao are usually filled with political persecution, ideological purification, economic hardship, and puritan daily life. Yet despite the oft-told stories of dictatorship and hardship in Maoist China, capitalist privileges existed or were, to some extent, preserved in Chinese life, particularly in big cities like Shanghai. To what extent did Shanghai’s old cosmopolitanism survive? Does Shanghai’s stunning resurgence as a global megacity today represent a complete break with the Maoist “dark ages” or indeed does it have its roots there? And why? This study addresses these questions by providing a detailed portrayal of daily life in socialist Shanghai and unearthing the reactions in society at a time of unprecedented state control.

This project will benefit from having student assistance in data collection, bibliographical organization, and, in some cases, identifying non-English sources for translation. The ability to read Chinese is desirable but not required.

Students will learn to conduct basic academic research on an interdisciplinary topic, identifying its significance and knowing its methodology.