Museums and nationalism in contemporary China

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines the representation of Chinese identity in museums in the People's Republic of China, comparing this briefly with the portrayal of local and national identities in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In particular, the article looks at the implications for museums of the shift in emphasis within state ideology from socialism to patriotism - a shift that has been particularly marked since the early 1990s. Museums in contemporary China are officially designated as 'bases for patriotic education', but the content of the 'patriotism' that they are meant to promote remains in many respects vague or problematic. One of the key tensions here is that between a deep-rooted assumption of equivalence between 'Chinese' and 'Han' culture and history, and the multicultural reality of the contemporary People's Republic - including as it does a range of non-Han groups such as Tibetans, Uighurs and Mongols. The progressive abandonment of socialism has in some ways exposed these contradictions more starkly in recent years. Meanwhile, the homogenous and totalising official vision of Chinese identity in general, and Han identity in particular, is contested either at the popular or the official level (or both) in the largely Han communities of Hong Kong and Taiwan. In a rapidly commercialising and modernising China, the promotion of a state-centred patriotism has become a key instrument for the regime in its efforts to preserve its legitimacy, and museums represent a key element in this strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-382
Number of pages18
JournalCompare
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2007

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nationalism
museum
patriotism
China
socialism
Hong Kong
Taiwan
equivalence
national identity
republic
legitimacy
ideology
promotion
regime
history
community
education
Group

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

Cite this

Museums and nationalism in contemporary China. / Vickers, Edward.

In: Compare, Vol. 37, No. 3, 01.06.2007, p. 365-382.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Vickers, Edward. / Museums and nationalism in contemporary China. In: Compare. 2007 ; Vol. 37, No. 3. pp. 365-382.
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