China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel addresses the relationship between history and memory by examining key sources and the historicity of the politically charged and morally laden events associated with the Nanjing Massacre and the wartime occupation of Central China. Accounts by witnesses and survivors of the Nanjing Massacre have played a crucial role in state-sponsored Chinese scholarship intent on documenting the extent of Japanese atrocities. Jiang addresses an overlooked dimension in the Chinese historiography—the psychological effects of the Nanjing Massacre. Jiang interrogates witness accounts from 1946 and interviews conducted since the mid 1980s to understand how and why individual memories have changed over time. The diaries of John Rabe, chairman of the International Safety Zone Committee, constitute another key source used in narratives of the Nanjing Massacre. Weber explores how their reception in both China and Japan has become politicized by fueling polarizing views between both countries and within Japan. Henshaw and Howard complicate commemorative narratives and a historiography of wartime collaboration that pit collaboration versus resistance in highly moralistic terms. Henshaw argues that commemoration of the militarist Hao Pengju elides the factionalist politics of the period. Howard’s analysis of wartime Nanjing labor-capitalist arbitration cases is based on the hypothesis that labor unions and government officials’ lived memory of the Nanjing Massacre influenced their turn to corporatist labor policies. Contrary to a historiography emphasizing either social control or resistance, workers’ active participation in arbitration speaks to their agency but also to their tacit cooperation with the collaborationist regime.