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?



Avatar Mayer

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

Avatar Schmitz

Frederik Schmitz


Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - Special Issue Okt 2023
© Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

Politics of Memory, Heritage, and Diversity in Modern China

Maximilian Mayer (Guest Editor)

Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 52(2), 2023

© International Journal of Cultural Policy

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

Xiaojun Ke

International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2021

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

China’s historical statecraft and the return of history.

Maximilian Mayer

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

Media Contributions

Recorded Events

Gebildet, patriotisch, postmodern? Wie Chinas junge Generation tickt

Gebildet, patriotisch, postmodern? Wie Chinas junge Generation tickt

19 January, 2023 | Dialogue Series "Understanding China's Modernity - European Reflections"

Chinas Renaissance im Kontext globaler Geschichte

Chinas Renaissance im Kontext globaler Geschichte

Further Events

Ringvorlesung_Digitalization of Memory Practice

Digitalization of Memory Practices and Heritage in Global Perspectives

Lecture Series | Summer Semester 2023 | 11 April - 11 July, 2023

This interdisciplinary lecture series focussed on how digital applications and infrastructures are reshaping memory practice and culture around the globe. With conventions of Prof. Dr. Carla Jaimes Betancourt, Prof. Dr. Sophie Elpers, Prof. Dr. Lewis Doney, Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer & Frederik Schmitz.

Digitalization of Memory in China

Digitalization of Memory in China

Workshop | 21 & 22 September, 2022

The relationship between memory and power has changed since multiple actors can interact in the digital space. This has massive implications for China, where digitalization is advancing particularly fast. The workshop addressed these topics by asking the influences of digitalization on memory practices in China.


New Cultural Technologies? Multicultural Perspectives on the Digitalization of Memory Practices

Panel Discussion | 21 September, 2022

Digitalization not only facilitates the diversity of memories and voices. It also calls conventions into question. The wokshop addressed the question of the consequences of the intersection between technology and culture in a global comparison.

16.09.21 Fremdbilder China.png

Unausweichlich oder fehlgeleitet? Debatten über Chinas Tradition und Moderne in Fremd- und Selbstbildern

Discussion | 16 September, 2021

The event of the dialogue series "Understanding China's Modernity - European Reflections" was dedicated to questions such as: To what extent were the diverse foreign and self-images of China's modernity historically in opposition or in harmony? How controversial is China's discussion of its own modernisation? Has the phase of catch-up modernisation finally been replaced by a new self-awareness?

Verbotene Stadt - Löwe
© Gigi/Unsplash

Infrastructures of Memory: Heritages and Diversity in Modern China 

Workshop | 27 May, 2021

The workshop aimed 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.

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