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Popular Memories of the Mao EraFrom Critical Debate to Reassessing History$
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Sebastian Veg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390762

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390762.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2019. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 13 November 2019

Introduction

Introduction

Trauma, Nostalgia, Public Debate

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction
Source:
Popular Memories of the Mao Era
Author(s):
Sebastian Veg, Sebastian Veg
Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888390762.003.0001

This introductory essay provides a theoretical and historical overview of how the notions of memory and history have been conceptualized in relation to China. In Pierre Nora’s view state-led memory sacralizes the past, whereas history, as produced by civil society, tends to rationalize it; in authoritarian settings, an additional distinction is often drawn between “official history” and “popular memory,” construed as more “authentic.” This essay further historicizes the notion of popular memories of the Mao era by arguing that they have followed a three-tiered evolution: the first stage in the 1980s gave rise to the expression of mainly traumatic but closely controlled narratives, the second stage in the 1990s was dominated by nostalgia and social protest against marketization of the economy, while the third stage investigated in the present volume evinces a turn toward public debate and critical memory.

Keywords:   History and Memory, Trauma, Contentious Memory, Public sphere, Civil society

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