To study the history of Tiananmen (The Gate of Heavenly Peace) Square is to study the history of Chinese political modernity from the late nineteenth century to the present. While exploring the on-going process through which Tiananmen Square has been constructed as the symbolic center of twentieth-century China, this dissertation offers alternative theoretical discourses on the materiality and spatiality of Chinese modernity and the political uses of memory and history at the place.
This dissertation is a study on how Tiananmen Square has been constructed as the symbolic center of national events in twentieth-century China from the perspective of the politics of historical memory. Applying insights from scholarship on the materiality and spatiality of memory, it analyzes the on-going process through which Tiananmen Square has been constructed as a memorial site to store, recall, and manipulate the past in the present and thus became the symbolic center of national events in China's evolving political modernity in the twentieth century. It argues that state-sponsored commemorative architecture and practices at Tiananmen Square after the founding of the PRC have materialized Chinese cultural memory of national salvation and revolutionary tradition. As a consequence, Tiananmen Square has constituted the material and spatial framework by which both state power and grassroots activists used to manipulate that cultural memory to justify their different political agendas of modernity.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2011. Major: History. Advisor: Professor Ann Waltner. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 456 pages.
Constructing Tiananmen Square as a realm of memory: national salvation, revolutionary tradition, and political modernity in twentieth-century China..
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