Can the Past Serve the Present? The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

in Journal of Chinese Humanities
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The memorialization of the Nanjing Massacre, constructed almost fifty years after the event, poses challenges for historians. This article asks the simple question: why? Why has the evolution of memory in China and Japan circumvented the issues of Nanjing for nearly half a century before letting it erupt onto the international stage in the past few decades? By examining the circumstances surrounding the opening of Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and its ensuing impact, this article not only attempts to shed light on how the memorial has been misconstrued in global historical memory, and the fundamental historiographical debates surrounding it, but also the utility of memory in historical narrative. When dealing with the ghosts of the past in the politics of the present, is it ever possible to purge historiography and memory of government?

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1

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2

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3

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4

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6

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9

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10

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13

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19

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21

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23

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24

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26

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28

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29

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30

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31

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35

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36

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38

Zhu, Memorial Hall, 1.

40

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41

Ibid., 204.

42

Eykholt, “Aggression, Victimization and Chinese Historiography,” 42-43.

43

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45

Zheng Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 95-96; Zhu Chengshan 朱成山 and Zhang Qingbo 張慶波, Qin hua rijun Nanjing datusha yunan tongbao jinianguan chenzhan tuji 侵華日軍南京大屠殺遇難同胞紀念館陳展圖集 [A Pictorial Collection from the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre at the Hands of the Japanese Military] (Beijing: Changcheng chubanshe, 2008), 292.

47

Katō Takanori, “Nankin daigyakusatsu kinenkan baransu kaku tenjibutsu nitchūkan hatten no samatage [Damage Caused by the Unbalanced Interpretations of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Exhibition],” Yomiuri shimbun, January 25, 2008.

50

Gustafsson, “Memory Politics,” 71-86.

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