Mao-era Poster Collection


This digital collection currently comprises the Heidelberg University and the University of Westminster collections of Mao-era chinese wall posters. It supports researchers at Institut de recherches asiatiques - IrAsia - at Aix-Marseille University; Institut d'Asie Orientale (IAO), ENS-Lyon; The Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg and the University of Westminster. Such posters formed an important communication and publication apparatus, employed in particular by the Communist Party of China - the ruling political party of the People's Republic of China, and are significant for the fields of Cultural Revolution, Mao-era and post-Mao-era studies.


The Westminster China Poster Collection, dating from the 1970s, was one of the first to be digitized and appear on the internet, and with almost 800 posters remains the largest publicly-available collection of this material. By 2009 it had become increasingly difficult to maintain as a research vehicle because of technical obsolescence and organizational change. Several digital versions of the Westminster Poster Collection plus new research contributed to the development of a Data Futures freizo-based collection in 2013. In turn this has been used to generate a new database with chinese language support for the existing University of Westminster poster collection website. The Heidelberg China Poster Collection of 1500 examples addresses the same period and unusually, has little overlap with the Westminster collection. The Heidelberg collection was digitized and initially developed using freizo during 2014 following experience with metadata development for the Westminster poster collection. Specification of MODS and VRA schemes enabled the combined Heidelberg and Westminster poster collection to be transformed automatically by freizo and installed in the Heidelberg Research Architecture's (HRA) Tamboti collection management system. From 2015 the combined poster collection has supported research and teaching at multiple universities including Stanford.

During this period a freizo annotation workflow was provided to link areas of the digital poster images to transcription and comment texts. In late 2016, with the release of OADM support for annotation, using IIIF presentation tools such as Mirador, a freizo workflow was developed using a IIIF image delivery service and integrated Mirador interface, with automated support for upgrading the existing poster annotations to OADM. Aix-Marseille, Heidelberg and Lyon researchers and students have subsequently been contributing to development of new transcriptions - making this one of the most comprehensively annotated collections of chinese posters internationally. In January 2017 the Centre for Transcultural Studies contracted Data Futures to migrate the combined Tamboti-based digital poster collection into a new freizo collection with integrated Mirador support.


Until June 2017 the full project will remain accessible only to the research community. However, an example IIIF and Mirador-2.2.2 presentation is available: Lin Chengha's 10 Year Plan poster from 1978. Click the 'i' button at the top right to see metadata about the poster, and click the 'bubble' button at the top left and mouse-over the hilited boxes to see current work on annotation. The Westminster China Poster Collection remains available as a static SQL database generated from this project and displayed using a content management system.


University of Westminaster Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies Europa Institute Institut d'Asie Orientale Princeton University