Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
This is Phase 1, where I will be gathering information, posing some questions and laying out a plan for research. In Phase 0, I narrowed down my topic to Government Graffiti and Propaganda Messages in Xizhou.
Based on my basic research, I know that propaganda can be described as something spread through the community to influence someone's way of thinking on certain issues. Many propaganda's can be used to change a reader's attitude from one side to another, or to change the reader's perspective from a neutral to a supporter. Propaganda messages usually represent political issues and are often issued by high government officials. Some would think that propaganda are all promoting bad campaigns, and this common thought led to mass majority of people to believe that all propaganda's are bad and negative. I think it used to represent neutral or positive things like government elections and promoting good health care. All of this background information can be found in Phase 3, which will help me come up with my 10 big questions.
I also learned a few things looking at work from previous Microcampus students on the same topic. I know that messages are usually in written in red, and depicted family care, community values and supporting of the Communism party. I also learned a few things when I wrote a historical narrative in TH grade, and also interview my grandma. My parents have also talked a little to me about the Cultural Revolution and it affected my grandma.
There were many questions that popped into my mind when I saw this topic. I would like to learn about how these people reacted to these messages when they were put up, and how it affected them. How did it affect their children or grandchildren? I like to dig deeper into how these messages embed themselves into these local lives. I would also like to know if they approved of the space it was taking up on the wall, and did their opinions or side change when they read these messages? I also wonder what they thought about the government back then, and how Mao ran it.
Now it is time for my list of 'Big Questions'. I came up with a few questions that I could use to push the research further. These questions might change as my research goes on. The possible answers that I came up are in italics, and are based on my own thoughts and minimal research on the topics of propaganda and the Cultural Revolution. The questions are categorized on what the question focuses on. These are my ten big questions:
Form of Propaganda:
1. What do these propaganda messages say?
This is probably the easiest to answer yet the hardest. As I have not seen the messages, I have no idea was it says. From research, I think they explain what was happening in the government or slogans like 'Love Your Nation'.
2. Why were these messages written?
The Cultural Revolution was a time of confusion and chaos. These messages were written to help people understand what was happening in the government since wars were fought far away from Yunnan.
3. When were these propaganda messages written?
I think they were written around the 1950's, when the main slew of the Cultural Revolution was happening.
4. Were there any other forms of propaganda (or distributed) in Xizhou?
There might have been small items like matches to spread the information faster. However, I do not really have an answer to this until I interviewed the locals. But other forms of spreading propaganda were postcards, leaflets, matches, and cigarette packs.
From what I know they were put up everywhere, on walls, on doors, on shops. I think it is like a reminder of who has control over who, a controlled message out in the open. To remind them of who is in charge.
Thoughts on People:
6. Were government officials in Xizhou involved with the propaganda? (Were they told to react a certain way? Or speak about it a certain way?)
I think they were probably told to react to it in a positive manner and also promote for the messages that were displayed.
7. Who put up these messages? (Were they government officials or government hired?)
Government officials probably hired artists to write or put up these messages, because sending government officials to all the different towns and cities would be unrealistic.
Change in Propaganda:
8. Were there any change when new messages were put up?
From basic research, I know that the messages were about politics that was happening that the rural areas might not know about. I think it was to keep the villagers watchful about what was happening in the government. It may or may not have affected people, but it might have given them a better understanding of what was happening in the government.
10. Why are the propaganda's not removed?
I think that some might have and some might have not. I will answer this question after I do more research. But as a basic answer I think it is part of the towns history and they do not want it removed.
I want to make most of my time in Xizhou, and I still need to finish researching in Shanghai. I would like to know more about the Cultural Revolution, and how people reacted differently when these messages were put up, as in can come in useful when I interview the villagers. I would also like to read up on different propaganda messages, so I can have a better understanding of them when I get there.
Next is Phase 2, where I find reliable resources to answer my questions.