The Mao Era in Objects: new website launches

A project led by Merton's Dr Jennifer Altehenger has resulted in a new website that explores the social, cultural, economic and political history of China's Mao Era through 24 objects, some famous, others more obscure.

Jennifer, who is Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History at Merton and an Associate Professor of Chinese History at the University of Oxford, said:

"It is wonderful to see the website live. Working with the King's Digital Lab, our project advisors Dr Denise Ho (Yale University) and Dr Tom Hurst (Highlands School, Enfield), and with many colleagues who contributed their expertise—and often items from their personal collections of primary sources—has been an remarkable experience; teamwork at its best. We are extremely grateful to the Arts and Humanities Council for providing the funds that allowed us to create this website and to all the individuals and organisations who provided advice, materials, and support along the way. We very much hope it will be a useful resource for anyone interested in the history of modern China and the Mao Era."

Designed by King's Digital Lab - a research software engineering team in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King's College London - and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Mao Era in Objects website features interactive biographies of objects used in China between 1949 and 1976 - the 'Mao Era'.

Object biographies, each written by an expert on their subject, include essays that introduce and contextualise the object's history, and show how it shaped politics, culture, economy, society and everyday life during this tumultuous time. Each essay is accompanied by several historical primary sources, including photos, propaganda posters, translated newspaper articles, brief memoirs, videos, etc, many of which are available for download.

The website, aimed at educators, students, pupils, and anyone interested in modern and contemporary China's history, also has additional features including an interactive timeline and map, an essay on the concept of ‘the object’ in Chinese history, a guide for using the site as a teaching resource, and a further reading list.