- Fellowship year:2022-2023
- University: University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
- Dissertation Topic/Category: China
- Dissertation Title: Making the Paper Come Alive: “Mass” Media and Print Socialism in the People’s Republic of China (1949-1966)
Donald Santacaterina’s research explores newspaper culture and propaganda systems in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1949-1966. Using close readings of newspapers, “garbological” sources directed at grassroots propagandists, and reconsiderations of Chinese Communist theories of journalism, Santacaterina reevaluates the emotional and intimate mechanisms of socialist world building promoted through Chinese-socialist newspapers from 1949-1966. Analysis of these sources finds a socialist world where cartoons, poems, reader testimony, and storytelling
converged to render an abstract socialist political theory as lived, everyday reality. By reconsidering newspaper cultures of the high socialist period (1949-1966) this project argues that socialism was only made “real” for consumer audiences through endless user participation in the praise and polemics of newspaper media. As individuals read the paper, listened to newspaper reading groups, or sent their complaints to newspaper bureaus, the imagined socialist project was rendered lived reality for fervent revolutionaries and disillusioned critics alike, explaining this ideology’s surprising durability beyond the death of Mao and well into the contemporary period. Second, the project’s comparative angles challenge the prevailing notion of a wide divide between socialist and democratic news cultures, arguing that top-down censorship and free access to information are better understood as cozy bedfellows than antagonistic enemies.