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Ingebretson, Britta Elisabeth

Grant Type: 
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Chicago, U. of
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
April 11, 2012
Project Title: 
Ingebretson, Britta Elisabeth, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Media, Circulation and the State: A Study of Women's Reading Practices in a Chinese Village,' supervised by Dr. Judith Farquhar

Preliminary abstract: In the past 30 years, the Chinese state has curtailed its bureaucratic reach into the lives or ordinary citizens. Yet over the same time period, the state has launched two new, far-reaching campaigns aimed at bring about an unprecedented transformation of the lives of women: the 'Superior Birth, Superior (child)-Rearing' campaign of the 1980s (now the 'Education for Quality' campaign) and the 'building a new socialist countryside campaign'(Greenhalgh 2010, Jacka and Sargeson 2011). How can we explain the simultaneous recession of state interference from most aspects of daily life and their increasing focus on women, and, in particular, rural women? My project, then, seeks to understand the effect of these campaigns, and the influence of the state in general, on Chinese women through an examination of state discourses which circulate through a wide range of media, specifically print media, in contemporary China. I hypothesize that while the direct state presence, particularly in the form of overt nation-building campaigns which epitomized the Maoist era, has receded from the everyday lives of ordinary Chinese citizens, the state still exerts a pervasive, if indirect, influence on daily life through circulation of discourses, management information, and through shaping the literacy and media consumption practices of its citizens, particularly women. To do this, I will study the consumption practices and circulation patterns state-produced women's magazines by spending 12 months in a small village in Anhui province. My study of the reading habits of village women will provide a nuanced view of how the state attempts to mediate everyday life, and how this intervention is interpreted by ordinary Chinese women.