China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Since the proclamation of the People’s Republic in October 1949, the Communist seizure of power on the mainland has usually been depicted as a radical turning point in China’s modern history. However, the emphasis on the obvious socio-political changes that accompanied the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) takeover has often resulted in the disregard of the fact that the Chinese nation-state-building project remained largely unchanged with regard to its contents and expressions. When these continuities are taken into consideration, it becomes apparent that the Communist regime’s nationalist thinking and symbolism, as well as its form of rule were (and are), in many ways, a consequential continuation of this project.
In order to substantiate this claim, the paper presenters in this panel address the following questions: Focusing on the efficacy of national symbols, Linh D. Vu shows that the means and intentions of utilizing China’s dead for imagining the nation stayed virtually unchanged before and after 1949. Clemens Buettner argues that the Communist regime’s aspirations of total control have also to be understood within the context of a persistent – and largely neglected – militaristic strand of Chinese nationalist thinking that can be traced back to the early 20th century. Xin Fan rounds this panel out by showing how the regime change opened up various possibilities for Chinese historians to renegotiate identities with reference to past lessons of Chinese history, thus subverting the notion of 1949 as a true turning point of Chinese history.