Daughter of the Party: Representing and Critiquing the Model Communist Citizen by Contemporary Chinese Photographer Chen Man


Chen Man, Long Live the Motherland - Beijing 1, as featured in Vogue China, October 2009.

This article focuses on a selection of works by contemporary Chinese photographer Chen Man (b. 1980) that were published around the 2008 Beijing Olympics, providing reflections from a time of drastic transformation of a nation that has been generally recognized as the "New China" (xinzhongguo 新中国). During this period of high international scrutiny, China constructed new ways within the quasi-pedagogical space of the fashion magazine in which to represent her own version of the ideal social citizen. A study of Chen Man's Long Live the Motherland, a magazine spread in the October 2009 edition of Vogue China, reveals how Chen utilizes the female body as a site to contest historical notions of proper womanhood and female citizenship. Specifically, Chen critiques the stigma of individualized fashion as a form of political dissent, and the female consumer as the symbol of ideological failure.

The original article appeared in The Inquiry, Summer 2014, pages 69-93.
A revised version appeared in The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Journal 2014, pages 17-22.