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Title: Re-constructing the nation : struggles in portraying minority ethnic groups in Chinese mainstream history textbooks
Author: Yan, Fei
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 3117
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the changes to the portrayal of minority ethnic groups in Chinese history textbooks since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It finds that ideological shifts in Beijing have led to minority ethnic groups being portrayed in changing and even contradictory ways in school textbooks. In the history textbooks of the 1950s, the Chinese nation was largely defined as a Han nation-state, and other ethnic groups were generally represented as non-Chinese who had historically been ‘threats’ or ‘enemies’ of the Han/Chinese. It was not until the reform era from the late 1970s that a more inclusive and multi-ethnic conception of the Chinese nationhood was adopted, with ‘minority’ ethnic groups incorporated into the Chinese historical narrative and portrayed more positively. However, as the Communist Party took an increasingly nationalist turn from the 1990s, simultaneously downplaying messages of socialist internationalism, Han ethno-centrism became more apparent once again in textbook narratives, with minority ethnic groups correspondingly marginalised. This thesis also finds that, although non-Han groups were portrayed very differently in history textbooks to match shifting political ideologies, what remained unchanged throughout PRC history was the representation of the backwardness of the non-Han in relation to the Han who were always portrayed as advanced. Based on this examination, this thesis argues that while history education has always been used by the Communist Party to inculcate a highly state-centred vision of national identity, underlying conceptions of the Chinese nationhood have been rather fluid, and there has been no consistent progress towards a more inclusive notion of ‘Chineseness’. Instead, different visions have co-existed and competed, reflecting tensions inherent in the project of constructing modern national consciousness: China has struggled (and is still struggling) to stretch the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of its empire.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available