China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Memorializing Martyrs and Creating Party-State Identity: The 1948 Construction and Legacy of the CCP’s Northeastern Martyrs Memorial Hall in Harbin

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

In December of 1948, shortly after gaining control of the Northeast, the Chinese Communist Party opened the Northeastern Martyrs Memorial Hall in Harbin. This was the Party’s first permanent historical memorial, constructed in order to commemorate martyrs from both the War of Resistance Against Japan and the Civil War against the KMT. The memorial was purposely housed in the former Manchukuo Harbin National Police Agency’s Department for Criminal Procedures, which was responsible for the torture and execution of numerous anti-Japanese patriots such as well-known heroine Zhao Yiman. The resignification of the symbolic space makes the memorial a particularly powerful example of what French sociologist Pierre Nora dubbed a “site of memory,” where memory ceases to become part of the everyday experience but persists in a more collectivized, physical form.


As a chapter of a larger project examining museums commemorating the Manchukuo era in China’s northeast, this study examines the historical circumstances surrounding the construction of the memorial. It also asks how, as a matter of identity politics, the CCP controlled and remolded wartime memories even while the Civil War was still raging in northern China. The study also examines how the memorial’s function has evolved and expanded over time and its role as a site of patriotic education in the PRC today. As the PRC leadership seeks to redefine narratives of colonialism in Northeast Asia along its own lines, the CCP-led resistance movement in Japanese Manchukuo is gaining new prominence in such education schemes.

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3 - Memorializing Martyrs and Creating Party-State Identity: The 1948 Construction and Legacy of the CCP’s Northeastern Martyrs Memorial Hall in Harbin



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Send Email for Memorializing Martyrs and Creating Party-State Identity: The 1948 Construction and Legacy of the CCP’s Northeastern Martyrs Memorial Hall in Harbin