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Contending memories of the nation: History education in wartime China, 1937–1945

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Chapter Summary

Based on recently discovered sources—educational decrees and regulations, correspondence of the Ministry of Education, school textbooks, teachers’ manuals, educational journals and memoirs—this chapter examines the diverse ways that historical memories were used to create new meanings of the nation during the Sino-Japanese War. This study has three main objectives. First, it examines how the Guomindang and pro-Japanese regimes invented new memories of the nation by erasing the embarrassing past in school textbooks. Second, it analyzes the ways in which these different memories competed with each other in constructing new national identities. Finally, it discusses how memories of the nation presented in textbooks were received and appropriated by teachers and students in different political environments. In view of the disunity of different population groups in wartime China, the Nationalist government may have instructed the textbook writers to avoid explicitly denigrating non-Han peoples who would form one of the five component races.

Keywords: educational decrees; historical memories; Ministry of Education; nation; Nationalist government; school textbooks; Sino-Japanese War; wartime China



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