This page was created by Michitake Aso.  The last update was by Kate McDonald.

Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Chinese Patriotic Hygiene Movement

Using the pretext of biological warfare, Chinese authorities launched the patriotic hygiene movement. As the following poster shows, this movement was meant to educate Chinese about the dangers of microbes and germs. The bombs suggest a human source of the microbes but the flies (and rats and various other insects shown in other posters) suggest that peasants need be aware of non-human vectors of disease as well. While these PRC posters emphasize human diseases, pathogens and pests attacking agricultural production were an equal concern for the Chinese and North Koreans (and later Việt Minh).

The second poster shows a man with a large nose shedding vectors of disease, including rats and flies. This poster draws on conventions common in Asia, including those used by Japanese illustrators during World War II, to depict Americans (and Westerners in general) as people with big noses and chins and demonic facial features. This poster also advances a Manichaean perspective that divided the world into imperialist and non-imperialist camps. By definition, imperialist, capitalist nations caused wars and used biological weapons while non-imperialist, socialist ones fought back and had to defend against biological weapons. Such a worldview is also displayed in the history of biological weapons narrated in the Việt Minh pamphlet shown in Path C.

The final poster included here shows three men burying the demonic figure above during the patriotic hygiene movement. In addition to the concrete activity of countering biological warfare, this movement sought to accomplish other military and social goals. It was meant to mobilize the peasantry to fight the imperialist as well as accept other programs such as land reform being instituted by the communists. This poster focuses on the medical doctors, soldiers, and hygiene works but other posters show the role farmers could play in such efforts.

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