A Floating History: The Korean War and China's Political Use of War Memory
The Korean War has served as one of the crucial historical conflicts in China’s relations with other countries, especially with the United States. However, the narrative of the official memory and the meaning of the War in China have changed dramatically from the wartime period to the present. Based on textual and content analysis, the thesis tries to explore the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s political use of the Korean War and relevant memory through the lens of official documentaries.The thesis looks into six series of official documentaries which cover three historical periods: the 1950s, the early 1990s and the 21st century. It adopts an analytic framework to look into four types of messages: constitutive norms, relational contents, cognitive contents, and social purposes. Then it analyzes the link between the narrative and the CCP’s political purposes in each period and makes a longitudinal comparison to discuss consistency and inconsistency of the memory.The thesis concludes that the structural frame of the War itself remains constant since the wartime period while the specific interpretation of the War has changed dramatically over time. The political purposes of the CCP have changed from building a communist country in the Cold War era to legitimating itself during an ideological crisis, and then to seeking global power. Accordingly, the theme of the narrative has turned from maligning-others to self-legitimacy, and then to self-glorification.
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