[ Interarea Sessions, Table of Contents ]
[ Panels by World Area Main Menu ]
[ View the Timetable of Panels ]
Memory and Counter Memory: The Construction of Statehood in Early-Modern and Modern East Asia
Organizer: Saeyoung Park, Johns Hopkins University
Chair: Gail Hershatter, University of California, Santa Cruz
Discussant: Peter G. Zarrow, Academica Sinica
This panel presents three cases of memory and the construction of national myths from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries in East Asia. The panel as a whole thus illuminates aspects of the intricate relationship between changing and competing memories on the one hand, and nationalism and state-building on the other. Huang argues that Chinese perceptions of the Ming martyr, Shi Kefa, oscillated between Ming loyalism with its implications of anti-Manchuism and a larger sense of Confucian loyalty that was compatible with both Qing rule and a multi-ethnic version of republicanism. From a different yet overlapping perspective, Zhao examines the interplay between competing memories of the origins of the Qing state. Zhao first shows how a multiethnic identity resting on memories of the conquest of Inner Asia was created by the nineteenth century, and then how the countermemory forged by anti-Manchu intellectuals of the early twentieth century was undermined their own acceptance of “China” as a multiethnic state built upon that very conquest. In the final paper, Park considers how the memory of the hero Admiral Yi not only changed over time, contributing to Korean identity in terms of both patriotism and victimhood, but continues even today to exert contradictory influences. These cases of memory-work in China and Korea demonstrate both the fluidity and instability of memory, and also the resistance to change that is inherent in national memory. Chinese and Korean nationalism and state-building have relied on memory as produced by a complex interplay of social forces and discourses.
Remembering Shi Kefa: Changing Images of a Hero in Late Imperial and Early Republican China
Max K. W. Huang, Academica Sinica
Shi Kefa died a “martyr” with thousands of Han residents in Yangzhou during the Manchu conquest. Since then, Shi has been regarded as a “national hero” like Yue Fei,Wen Tianxiang and Zheng Chenggong. In fact, the historical image of Shi has changed over time. This paper traces how people remembered him through giving honorary titles, building memorial halls, worshiping, and the writing of history and literature. Such appropriations of Shi’s image contributed to the construction of identity in both the Qing and the Republic. The major difference in how Shi has been remembered revolves around whether he was seen as a Ming loyalist who fought against the Manchu, or as a loyalist in the broader sense of Confucian ethics. There was never an absolute distinction, but generally speaking in the early and late Qing, the image of a Ming loyalist was dominant. However, during the mid-Qing, especially from the Qianlong to the Daoguang periods, and later in early Republican times, Shi came to embody the ideal of loyalty itself. Significantly, Shi’s case was not unique. Thus the memories of Yue Fei of the Song dynasty and Zheng Chenggong of the late Ming, were appropriated in a similar way. This indicates the entanglement of competing yet overlapping ideals of “yixia zhi bian” (the distinction between barbarian and Chinese) and “junchen zhi yi” (the loyalty between a ruler and subjects) in Chinese memory-work since the late seventeenth century.
Memory and Counter Memory of the Qing Conquest of Inner Asia and the Formation of Modern Chinese National Identity, 1820-1910
Gang Zhao, University of Akron
Inspired by Foucault's concept of counter-memory, this paper focuses on how the construction of collective memory and counter-memory in nineteenth-century China contributed to the emergence of a Chinese national identity as a multiethnic entity at the turn of the twentieth century. This paper argues that the nineteenth-century Manchu court did not actively strengthen their subjects' self-identification as Qing subjects due to tensions from within and beyond its borders. Notably, this development was in sharp contrast to the policies of the court in the late eighteenth century. To fill the void left by the court in the 1800s, the Han literati began to consciously instill the Han people with a multiethnic Qing identity through the construction of the memory of the Qing conquest of Inner Asia. During the first ten years of the twentieth century, the anti-Manchu intellectuals tried to deny the Qing political legitimacy by building up the counter-memory of how the Qing lost the Chinese territory in Inner Asia to foreign powers. Paradoxically, the concept of China that they used in this process was not an entity referring to China proper alone, but to the new concept originally invented by the Qing court which included China proper, Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, and Manchuria. As a result, this new counter-memory, though challenging the Manchu rule, reified rather than undermined the Chinese sense of their country as a multiethnic entity early in the twentieth century.
Memories of a Hero: The Mythology of Admiral Yi Sunshin and the Emergence of Korean National Identity
Saeyoung Park, Johns Hopkins University
This paper examines the imagery of the Imjin War Korean hero Yi Sunshin from the seventeenth century till the present. Considered to be the ultimate patriot, this paper problematizes the appropriation of Yi in the construction of national identity and collective memory. The appropriation of Yi, especially in the early 20th century, is key to understanding the structure of the nationalist narrative. Despite the historical fact that the Imjin War was overall a rout, the Yi’s victories have become conflated with a larger constructed Korean triumph. In this case, the 'will to memory' is founded on a narrative of Koreans as a people under siege from international powers, as triumphant victims whose destiny is to reclaim their glorious past in a self-determined future. Finally, this essay explores the active participation of Koreans in this imaginary, and how managing the paradox of victimhood has ultimately proved to be divisive in international and domestic relations. Prevailing over a ‘humiliating’ past by overcoming what Sin Chaeho has called ‘weaknesses’ in the Korean character has proved to be a powerful rhetoric in the drive towards modernization. Sin endorses Admiral Yi as a paragon of Korean virtues that must be recovered. However, this narrative has required Koreans to embrace a certain ‘victimhood’ which enables but stands in tension with ultimate success. Hence the Korean state today is engaged in a juggling act of tacitly condoning displays of nationalistic fervor while seeking to look beyond the legacies of the past in the interests of profitable and harmonious relations with its former enemies.