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Some corner of a Chinese field: the politics of remembering foreign veterans of the Taiping Civil War

Chappell, Jonathan (2018) Some corner of a Chinese field: the politics of remembering foreign veterans of the Taiping Civil War. Modern Asian Studies, 52 (4). pp. 1134-1171. ISSN 0026-749X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0026749X16000986


The memory of the foreign involvement in the Taiping war lasted long after the fall of the Taiping capital at Nanjing in 1864. The events were commemorated by various actors, Chinese and foreign from the end of the war until the end of the treaty port century in 1943 when the right to extraterritoriality was abrogated. This article explores the commemorations of the foreign role through three media: the issuing of medals to foreign fighters, the building of memorials to the foreign dead and the writing of histories of the events. Across these media different interest groups used the foreign interventions as a proxy for continuing debates about the role of foreigners in China and about China’s place in the world. More broadly the commemorations of the role of foreign fighters in the Taiping war is a case study in the transnational politics of memory. The memories of the war were not just contested or commemorated by states but also by individuals and groups whose views often diverged from those of their government. By tracing how memories of the war were remembered and forgotten we can trace the insecurities of different interest groups over time and their perceived power relative to each other.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Government
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Date Deposited: 11 May 2018 09:44
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:26
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Chiang Ching-kuo foundation

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