Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

The death of North Korean civilians at Sinchon is significant on a few levels. On the one hand, it calls our attention to the always fractious topic of war crimes in Korea, and the contested nature of the memory of those crimes. On the other hand, the Sinchon massacre has underpinned a great deal of anti-U.S. propaganda in the DPRK and today remains a touchstone … Continue reading Notes on the Sinchon Massacre

Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

From the very beginning of the so-called ‘post war,’ the territorial and temporal parameters of the memory wars between China and Japan were never drawn particularly cleanly. The war ended formally in Tokyo Harbour on 3 September 1945, but it took nearly another week for Okamura Yasuji to formally surrender to General He Yingqin at Nanjing. It then took months (in some rare cases, years) … Continue reading Old Chapters, New Chapters: The Memory Wars in East Asia

Report from the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, Sichuan (Die Zeit)

Last year I made two trips to the Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Sichuan, the PRC’s only private collection of museums and facilities which are completely ground-breaking in their somewhat individualistic take on curating and historical interpretation in general.  The museum cluster, owned and very much directed by the entrepreneur Fan Jianchuan, includes a museum of the Cultural Revolution, among other things. An excellent overview of … Continue reading Report from the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, Sichuan (Die Zeit)

Republican Reading for the Day

…is on YouTube.  And the online essays on the meaning of the 100th anniversary (today!) of the Chinese republic by Jottings from the Granite [or was it ‘Gangster’?] Studio and the reliably reactionary Global Times, the latter of which audaciously bids “Farewell to the Revolutionary Complex.” Speak, Memory! Continue reading Republican Reading for the Day

Sino-Japanese Sehnsucht

This post is my own small commemoration of July 7 in the Chinese context; it is a bit of a centaur in that the first half is rather traditional scholar-style analysis of what we might call “the politics of memory” in the PRC, while the second half is a somewhat quirky story of frustrated Sino-Japanese love on the train tracks of Frankfurt, Germany.  The latter … Continue reading Sino-Japanese Sehnsucht

Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC

In walking around Chinese book markets, perusing Chinese newspapers, talking to Chinese scholars and intellectuals, and just plain thinking here in the PRC, the remarkable fact emerges of the enormous gap between what is printed and discussed here and how we talk about it back in the West. In other words, there are some thorny themes being worked out here in the PRC that seem … Continue reading Contested Era, Blossoming Memory: Reconsidering the Early 1950s in the Present PRC

Walls and Apertures

In tacking along the North Korean border with Liaoning province for most of the day, it occurred to me that construction of barriers is simply part of life.  One has to seal off memory in order to act, for instance. Thus the danger of wallowing in history of any sort.  Weighing, judging, understanding, and forgetting are of a piece.   Perhaps it isn’t a bad … Continue reading Walls and Apertures