Taylor Armijo ’20 is the recipient of the New York Conference on Asian Studies’ 2020 Marleigh Grayer Ryan Undergraduate Paper Prize for her paper, “In An Era of Reform: Reimagining Government Control in the Chinese Film Industry.”
“Despite our abrupt transition this past semester and the devastating news that her softball season would be canceled, Taylor had the wherewithal to put together a prize-winning paper on the Chinese film industry, exploring how the Chinese government navigated among the competing interests of artistic freedom, censorship, and market success,” says Grace Huang, St. Lawrence’s Charles D., Sarah & John D. Munsil Associate Professor of Government.
Taylor, who majored in mathematics and minored in computer science, statistics, and Asian studies while at St. Lawrence, chose to write about the Chinese film industry during the reform era because she “wanted to see the extent to which censorship was restricted or loosened during a period of such economic liberalization in a traditionally very strictly monitored society.”
“The fall of Mao Zedong and the rise of Deng Xiaoping pushed China into a period of modernization and liberalization in an attempt to catch up with the rest of the world, which dramatically affected the way art was seen and used,” she says. “While film was a propaganda tool prior to the reform era, it blossomed into a commercial and entertainment product, which gave filmmakers a platform to explore political and social issues or ideas in a way that was greatly suppressed under Mao. This interested me because Chinese censorship tends to be interpreted as very strict, unwavering, and unchanging, however, the leniency given to the film industry reflects a moving and conditional censorship system that at time gives filmmakers more or less freedom depending on the changing political climate.”