This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book analyzes the ways in which history museums have moved beyond the Cold War narratives of the Mao era to both tell new stories and retell old stories in ways that speak to more contemporary concerns. It analyzes the exhibition of the past in various Chinese state museums and the role of these museums in nation building, the construction of national identities, and political legitimization; and investigates how these representations of the past are changing in the new political and economic climates of postsocialist, neoliberal China. Museums and memorial sites offer a particularly visible and public space through which to discuss issues of memory, politicized constructions of the past, globalization and the changing role of museums in postsocialist societies, and the construction of national and postsocialist identities. The book is centered on the issue of how Chinese museums are responding to a world that is changing so quickly beyond their walls.
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