Emily Williams is a Research Fellow at Fudan University, Shanghai. She received her PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2016. Her research focuses on the global impacts and legacies of Chinese Communist art and history. For more on contemporary Red Collectors, follow Emily on Instagram @Red_Collectors_China.

Collecting the Red Era in Contemporary China

Since the 1980s the Chinese Communist Party has condemned the Cultural Revolution as ‘ten years of chaos’. Nevertheless, so far there has been very little discussion on the topic in the public sphere in China. This essay looks into how private collections of red relics can be used to confront this void in China’s recent past. It argues that collected objects play a much more complex role in history production than we may think, as they contribute to the construction of narratives, put forth counter-narratives, and fragment the very idea of historical narrative altogether.

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