Infrastructures of Memory

Emerging China is telling a “China story” not only to its own citizens, but also to the rest of the world: its origins; where it will go; how it will rise and what world order it wants to help shaping. The political references to China’s past play a central role for this process. However, it is not only official rhetoric that makes diverse references to history and heritage, but also civil society actors at provincial and municipal levels. The immediate connection of new cultural heritage sites and the modern Silk Road initiative opens up new analytical perspectives on China’s pursuit of global recognition and normative influence, and on the question how Chinese actors use conservation, archeology, and history to promote mutual understanding with other societies and cultures and to reinterpret tensions and conflicts. The project focuses on “infrastructures of memory”, which are understood as a heterogenous, temporal arena to construct collective identities. What kind of (national) identity is constructed and negotiated by different memory infrastructures? To which narrative frame does China “heritage diplomacy” (Winter) and its “historical statecraft” give rise to? Which effects do Chinese memory infrastructures have on international cultural hierarchies as well as on the current transformation of world-historical narratives and related identity-construction processes? To what extent do the national and international audiences accept a China story that refers to the historicity of cultural heritage?


Mayer - 2018 - Chinas historical statecraft and the return of hi.jpg

South Korea’s intangible cultural heritage claims and China’s ontological security.

Xiaojun Ke

International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2021

doi: 10.1080/10286632.2021.1981887

Mayer - 2018 - Chinas historical statecraft and the return of hi.jpg

China’s historical statecraft and the return of history.

Maximilian Mayer

International Affairs, 94(6), 2018, 1217–1235:

doi: 10.1093/ia/iiy209



27. May 2021

Infrastructures of Memory: Heritages and Diversity in Modern China 

This workshop aims to discuss how different heritage related actors in contemporary China construct and employ historical, architectural and cultural resources as memory infrastructures to engage in identity construction in the context of modern Chinese society and in Chinas transnational cultural and political interactions.



Avatar Mayer

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

+49 228 73 5640

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