Denise Y. Ho is an Assistant Professor in the department of history at Yale University.  She received her Ph.D. in Chinese history from Harvard University and taught previously at the University of Kentucky and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  She is an historian of 20th-century China, with a particular focus on the social and cultural history of the Mao period. Her current book project is a history of museums and exhibitions entitled Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China.

Her articles and reviews have appeared in The China Quarterly, China Review International, Frontiers of History in China, History Compass, Modern China, The Journal of Asian Studies, and the PRC History Review. Chapters by Denise Ho will appear in the forthcoming volumes Red Legacies: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution (Harvard University Press) and The Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture (Oxford University Press). She has written for The Atlantic, The China Beat, China Policy Institute, Dissent Magazine, The Nation, and Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective.

Last Updated: March 23, 2018

Books

03.23.18

Curating Revolution

Denise Y. Ho
Cambridge University Press: How did China’s Communist revolution transform the nation’s political culture? In this rich and vivid history of the Mao period (1949-1976), Denise Y. Ho examines the relationship between its exhibitions and its political movements. Case studies from Shanghai show how revolution was curated: museum workers collected cultural and revolutionary relics; neighborhoods, schools, and work units mounted and narrated local displays; and exhibits provided ritual space for ideological lessons and political campaigns. Using archival sources, ephemera, interviews, and other materials, Ho traces the process by which exhibitions were developed, presented, and received. Examples under analysis range from the First Party Congress Site and the Shanghai Museum to the “class education” and Red Guard exhibits that accompanied the Socialist Education Movement and the Cultural Revolution. Operating in two modes—that of a state in power and that of a state in revolution—Mao era exhibitionary culture remains part of China’s revolutionary legacy.{chop}Related Reading:“The Double Helix of Chinese History and Its Powerful Leader,” Denise Y. Ho, The Japan Times, March 20, 2018“Fifty Years Later, How Is the Cultural Revolution Still Present in Life in China?,” ChinaFile Conversation, ChinaFile, April 19, 2016“The Cultural Revolution at 50 — A Q&A with Four Specialists (Part Two),” Alexander C. Cook, Los Angeles Review of Books, March 2, 2016“The Cultural Revolution at 50: A Q&A with Four Specialists (Part One),” Alexander C. Cook, Los Angeles Review of Books, February 24, 2016“Chairman Mao’s Everyman Makeover,” Denise Y. Ho and Christopher Young, The Atlantic, December 19, 2013Author’s Recommendations:The Gender of Memory, Gail Hershatter (University of California, 2014)Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition, Elizabeth Perry (University of California, 2012)The Temple of Memories, Jun Jing (Cambridge University, 1996)

Conversation

05.25.17

Can Free Speech on American Campuses Withstand Chinese Nationalism?

Yifu Dong, Edward Friedman & more
Earlier this week, Kunming native Yang Shuping, a student at the University of Maryland, gave a commencement speech extolling the “fresh air” and “free speech” she experienced while studying in the United States. Video of her speech spread on the...

Conversation

04.19.16

Fifty Years Later, How Is the Cultural Revolution Still Present in Life in China?

Guobin Yang, Federico Pachetti & more
Fifty years ago this May 16, Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a chaotic, terrifying, and often deadly decade-long campaign to “purify” C.C.P. ideology and reassert his political dominance...

Viewpoint

01.28.16

The Trouble with Hong Kong’s Chief Executives

Denise Y. Ho & Alyssa King
On January 14, the trial of Sir Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s former chief executive who served from 2005 to 2012, was set for January 3 of 2017. This past December, Tsang pleaded not guilty to two counts of misconduct in public office, charges on which...

Conversation

09.30.15

The Future of Autonomy in Hong Kong

David Schlesinger, Denise Y. Ho & more
Yesterday, the governing board of Hong Kong University, one of the territory’s most esteemed institutions of higher education, voted to reject the promotion of Johannes Chan, a former law school dean, over the objections of the faculty and students...

Culture

04.10.15

A New Opera and Hong Kong’s Utopian Legacy

Denise Y. Ho
This year, the 43rd annual Hong Kong Arts Festival commissioned a chamber opera in three acts called Datong: The Chinese Utopia. Depicting the life and times of Kang Youwei (1858-1927), a philosopher and reformer of China’s last Qing dynasty, it...

Conversation

01.08.15

What Does Hong Kong’s Post-Protest Report Signal For Relations with Beijing?

David Schlesinger, Joseph Cheng & more
This week, we saw the release of the official government “Report on the Recent Community and Political Situation in Hong Kong.” It concluded: "It is the common aspiration of the Central Authorities [in Beijing], the [Hong Kong Special...

Viewpoint

09.29.14

‘Against My Fear, I See That You Hope’

Denise Y. Ho
A week ago today I sat together with you outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s library, a teacher among other teachers, a university member beside students, 13,000 strong. The weeks before had felt quiet: at the three previous all-student...