Maria Caterina Bellinetti

  • PhD candidate

History of Art


Research title

Building a Nation: The Construction of Modern China through CCP's Propaganda Images

Research summary

My research focuses on Chinese War Photography of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45). The lack of dedicated studies on war photography regarding this conflict shows a scarcity of interest for the visual narrative of the East Asian side of World War II. The great importance of the conflict lies in the social and political transformations that occurred in China during and after the eight years of the war. Events such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), the Cultural Revolution (1966- 1976) and, above all, the creation of the People’s Republic of China as we currently know it, have their roots in the eight years of the Anti-Japanese War. My study primarily focuses on the ways in which the Communist Chinese Party used photographs for its propaganda strategies during the years 1937-45. Through a thematic analysis of the photographs that appeared on newspapers, pictorials and magazines of the time, I aim to show that photographs contributed in a pivotal way to the creation of a visual language that is still used in contemporary China for propaganda purposes. Propaganda themes -such as land, people and landmarks- were created and exploited by the CCP to create feelings of national belonging during the war. These themes also proved essential in convincing the Chinese people of the necessity of the struggle against Japan and greatly helped the CCP’s route to power.


  • Universities' China Committee in London (UCCL)


  • GTA, History of Art, Level 1

Additional information


  • Member of the Scottish Centre for China Research (SCCR)


“No License to Publish: Nationalism, Propaganda and Censorship of war photography during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45)” at the BACS Conference in Leeds, September 2015