Organized Panel Session
Across East Asia, sociopolitical agendas of the present can often be prioritized over the veracity of the past. This is particularly evident through the lens of museums. Accordingly, this panel will explore four such museums and what their curated content communicates about the evolving identities of “China,” “Taiwan,” and “Japan.”
Lee Moore discusses Xinjiang’s Kashgari Urban Planning Museum and how it rewrites the history of the city, largely erasing Uighurs and Islam from the city’s past in favor of highlighting “Chinese” government officials dispatched to the city. Emily Matson examines Shenyang’s September 18th History Museum and how it portrays the Mukden Incident as the true starting point of the War of Resistance against Japan, part of a larger national effort to elongate the war’s timeline. Susan Chang explores the exhibition contents in the newly opened Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum in Taiwan and its “Taiwanization,” situating Taiwan in a regional historical context of empire and cultural exchange that extends beyond the Sinosphere. Jinny McGill highlights how tensions between “modern” science and “traditional” imperial legacy in early 20th century Japan are negotiated through her examination of the Nawa Insect Museum.
This panel will explore how these museums shape conceptions of East Asian nations. In this way, the thematic content of the panel builds on Kirk Denton and Noriko Aso’s preexisting work on historical memory and museums in East Asia and can be readily extended to the broader fields of museum studies and public history, both within Asia and beyond.