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Exhibiting the PastHistorical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China$
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Kirk A. Denton

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836870

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836870.001.0001

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Martial Glory and the Power of the State

Martial Glory and the Power of the State

Military Museums

(p.115) Chapter 5 Martial Glory and the Power of the State
Exhibiting the Past

Kirk A. Denton

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the most official of state military museums in the PRC—the Military Museum in Beijing. Like other military museums, this one asserts a military culture that bolsters the image of a strong state protecting its citizens from external threat and internal dissension. It tells tales of glorious martial victories and tragic defeats that contribute to the narrating of the nation's coming into being. Originally focused solely on the exploits of the Red Army, the museum's exhibits have expanded in the post-Mao era to include the military history of ancient and early modern China, revisions that forge new forms of historical continuity between the present authoritarian regime and the power of the imperial state. Although humanist denunciations of the horrors of war are beginning to appear in some Chinese museums, the museums discussed here are in the heroic mode in which war is a central part of the struggle for national unity in China.

Keywords:   Chinese military museums, war museums, military culture, Military Museum

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