Language, rhetoric and discourse played a pivotal role in the Chinese Communist revolution. A wide range of techniques and strategies of revolutionary linguistic engineering were developed during the Mao era, and a common foundation of such techniques was what may be called “the emotional roots of political power.” This essay provides a case study of the largely overlooked sensory dimension of political language and discourse in Maoist China. It demonstrates the ways in which rhetorical references to stench and fragrance engaged with emotions, forging the bond between members of the discourse community of Communist China at the biological/corporeal level. How was sensory perception employed by propaganda to internalise political doctrines? How did the imageries of the fragrant and the foul serve to stimulate admiration and worship, and to instigate agitation and hatred? Adopting the keywords approach initiated by Raymond Williams, this essay studies such smell-related keywords and phrases as “the political sense of smell,” a range of scatological utterances, “to struggle against/condemn somebody until s/he stinks” (douchou/pichou), “fragrant breeze,” and “fragrant blossoms/poisonous weeds.” In doing so, I explore the themes of revolutionary neurosis, rudeness, ruthlessness, the polarization of love and hatred and their roles in the revolutionary structure of feeling and collective memory.
|Translated title of the contribution||Olfactory metaphor, structure of feeling, and collective memory : The politics of language in Mao’s revolution|
|Original language||Chinese (Traditional)|
|Journal||Journal of the History of Ideas in East Asia|
|Publication status||Published - 31 Dec 2021|
- sensory studies
- Mao Zedong
- political language