My final research paper examines the relationship between digital media and nationalism in China. For my creative project, I plan to make a short video using clips from Chinese online TV series. In this way, I aim to demonstrate how nationalism is present in current Chinese digital media. The TV series that I use are about WWII. The portrayal of Chinese soldiers and Japanese troops exemplifies a nationalist approach towards Chinese history. While the is not specifically about my final project, it is a good complement to my research. It provides a specific context in which nationalist narrative and digital media are closely intertwined.
BGM: I will return – Skylar Grey
TV series: The Line, Soldiers and Their Commander, Good Fellas
The Second Sino-Japanese War in Chinese Digital Media
In the modern society, the public perception of International relations is closely tied to the collective memories of certain historical events shared by the mainstream. In China, the Second Sino-Japanese war during the twentieth century plays an important role in the contemporary Chinese historical narrative and significantly shapes the prevalent perception of modern Japan in Chinese society. The interpretation of the war legacy can be found in history textbooks, newspapers, or political speeches. As the world enters the era of cyberspace, digital media plays an important role in shaping mainstream history discourses in everyday life. Examining the representations of the Second Sino-Japanese War in Chinese digital media, this paper suggests that the digital technologies have significantly contributed to a national approach towards the war legacy. The research finding is mainly based on data collected from a popular Chinese social media platform named Weibo as well as certain online TV shows reflecting China’s wartime experiences. It also engages with available scholarly literature focusing on the relationship between nationalism and digital media. By respectively analyzing the different portrayals of Japanese troops and Chinese forces, this research concludes that in China nationalism and history are tightly connected through digital media. As a medium that has emerged recently, digital media has effectively facilitated the construction of a unified nationalist narrative of the shared past in Chinese society.
In this section, I will give a brief overview of the digital media landscape in China and an explanation of certain affordances that enable digital media to construct collective memories in modern nation-states. I will cite an article named “Mediated Massacre: Digital Nationalism and History Discourse on China’s Web” and a book named Social Media in Industrial China to explain certain concepts. Then I will get to the specifics and explain why I have chosen Weibo as my sources of research by offering a brief introduction of its history and characteristics. I will also give some background information about the TV shows that I plan to analyze in the paper.
The portrayal of Japanese people in the digital media: creates a sense of “otherness” associated with Japanese. The depictions of Japanese war crimes reflect the cruelty of the war.
impact: comments collected from the social media indicate an outrage towards Japan escalate especially when China and Japan are having territory disputes.
In China, the Second Sino-Japanese war is perceived as a respectable victory achieved by Chinese people as a whole. The TV shows usually alleviate the emphasis on partisan differences and describe all Chinese as a unified nation group that successfully defeat the invaders.
Put emphasis on the tremendous loss during wartime. The idea that we have all undertaken the hardships together arouse empathy among the public.
Overall, this paper argues that the digital media facilitates the prevalence of nationalist history discourses. By analyzing the different portrayals of Japanese troops and Chinese forces, this research concludes that in China nationalism and history are intertwined through digital media. As an easily accessible medium that has recently become part of our everyday life, digital media has effectively promoted a unified nationalist narrative of the shared past.
What changes did you make over the course of the semester, and why?
Over the semester I have added new menu to my website. At first I listed all my posts on my homepage but then I realized it is hard for readers to come back and review certain post later. Therefore, I have added new categories to differentiate sections on my website. Also, at first I had a section to display the everyday photos that I took, but later on I deleted it because it was not pertinent to the overall focus of my website. I want this website to be mainly a page for my works.
How did your website end up versus how you first imagined it?
At the beginning of the semester, I planned to make a concise and straightforward website, and I have maintained this style throughout the semester. I have also personalized my website by adding new sections and changing the theme.
Were you able to accomplish the goals for your website that you expressed at the beginning of the semester?
I have maintained the concise and simple style and continuously added new works related to digital media to the website. I have also added new sections to make the website more organized.
Was making a website easier or harder than you expected?
Making a website is easier than I expected because the tutorial video is very helpful and the instructions on WordPress are clear.
How will you use this website (or similar websites) in the future?
I will continue using this website in the future as a place displaying my works, but I might reorganize the structure of my website. Now it is mainly about my works related to media studies, but as a history and media studies double major, I want to add a new section displaying my works related to history field.
Schneider, Florian. “Mediated Massacre: Digital Nationalism and History Discourse on China’s Web.” The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 77, no. 2, 2018, pp. 429–452., doi:10.1017/S0021911817001346.
This article explores how nationalism and history are connected through digital media, and in what ways the features that are native to the digital media affect how stakeholders in a specific society construct a sense of the shared past. Specifically, the article uses the Nanjing Massacre, an event marking a particularly gruesome episode of WWII in China. I appreciate this article because it explains how the affordances of digital media can shape historical discourses online and therefore arouse nationalism in China. Although this article does not specifically examine the prevalent narrative of KMT soldiers in digital media, it does provide me with evidence to prove that digital media is able to collapse the complexity of historical discourse and promote unified narratives.
Liu, Shih-Diing. “China’s popular nationalism on the internet. Report on the 2005 antiJapan network struggles.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. 7 (2006): 144-155.
This essay examines China’s online popular nationalism against Japan over the history of colonial rule and war crimes in the past. It considers the cyberspace an autonomous political domain that is independent of the state nationalism. According to the author, the “cyber-nationalism” not only challenges the state monopoly over domestic nationalist production, but also opens up new possibilities for performing common people’s rights. This article helps me understand the powerful communicative and mobilizing potential of the new digital media for China’s popular nationalism. Since I want to examine the relationship between digital media and the nationalism in China, with the evidence from this article I am able to argue that digital media in China serves as a key site for nationalism-from-below. The accessibility of digital media in China facilitates a nationalist approach towards history and amplifies a sense of “otherness” related to Japan.
Gries, Peter, et al. “Social Media, Nationalist Protests, and China’s Japan Policy: The Diaoyu Islands Controversy, 2012–13.” The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China, edited by Jacques DeLisle et al., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, pp. 161–179. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1b3t8nr.11.
This article examines the relationship between the extensive use of social media and the nationalist turn in Chinese politics. It argues that social media platforms offer a useful window into the dynamics of Chinese nationalist politics, acting as an amplifier of conflict in China’s foreign relations. I appreciate this article because it further develops the insight offered by Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. This article incorporates both quantitative and qualitative evidence, helping me better understand how the use of digital media enables the bottom-up nationalism in China affect the political elites at the top and their decision-making process. I think the findings of this article can assist the discussion section of my project because it extends my research scope and teaches me the fundamental impact of digital media.
Schneider, Florian. China’s Digital Nationalism. Oxford University Press, 2018.
This book is a monograph on China’s digital nationalism. It is perfectly pertinent to my research topic offers a detailed explanation of how nationalism is adopted, filtered, transformed, enhanced, and accelerated through digital networks in China. The analysis is based on sorts of digital media, such as websites and social media platforms. More importantly, this book focuses on the historical period that I am interested in. It analyzes how digital media catalyzes the expansion of nationalism in China through the lens of WWII. Using the infamous Nanjing Massacre of 1937, Schneider shows how nation states adapt to the changing arena of the digital age and addresses how digital nationalism is an essential property of complex communication networks.
This article is important to my research because it provides me with rich background information about the history of digital media in China. Although it does not specifically narrow down its focus to the relationship between nationalism and the use of digital media, I consider this article a guide that helps me contextualize my research project in a broader historical and societal context. It gives an introduction to Chinese internet development and then moves on to consider the main features of Chinese digital media platforms. I find this chart attached below very helpful because it creates a timeline of internet applications both inside and outside China. This timeline helps me develop a better sense of the where the development of Chinese digital media is positioned in a world forum.
When I was in the sixth grade I watched a Chinese TV show named Soldiers and Their Commander (Here is a link to a vidding of the TV Show) It portrays the wartime experiences of the Chinese Expeditionary Force in China Burma India Theater (CBI) in the 1940s. The story stood out to me because I had not known much about the war efforts of KMT soldiers before. In fact, instead of offering much positive media coverage, a lot of TV shows tended to emphasize the ineptitude of KMT government and did not give much credit to their wartime contributions. Even my history teacher did not talk much about the wartime participation of KMT armies when we studied WWII at school and the history textbook only contained a short paragraph listing the battles fought by the KMT armies. Therefore, I was intrigued by the unknown story unrevealed by this TV show. I started to do more research about this topic out of curiosity. I found that KMT troops actually made great contributions to China’s victory in the Second World War. More than three million KMT soldiers were killed or injured during WWII. However, since Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, former KMT soldiers in mainland China had long been marginalized due to their previous political affiliations. A lot of veterans were condemned as “reactionary forces” and they suffered from poor living conditions ever since. After doing some research, I was shocked by the fact that such an important part of Chinese history had long been understated and that the voices of so many people had remained unheard.
My findings made me realize that my historical perspective on the past was far from comprehensive. I wanted to make some changes and help the war veterans who were struggling with rehabilitation. Using Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter), I reached out to a newly founded charity in China aiming to aid the WWII veterans. I followed their account to receive timely updates about the veterans, and later on became a volunteer of this organization. I began to regularly visit the World War II veterans with other volunteers in my hometown, helping them do housework and providing them with daily necessities. Noticing that each of them had distinctive wartime experiences, I conducted several interviews with them. Then I registered an official account on WeChat to share the stories of the veterans with subscribers online. My primary purpose was to raise awareness among the public and to encourage more people to help these veterans. WeChat is a Chinese multi-function social media and by 2018 it has been described as one of the world’s most powerful apps by Forbes. As my posts gained traction, a lot of people reached out to me and asked me about the ways to improve the living conditions of these veterans. I was impressed by the power of social media in arousing attention and calling for action.
Because I came to the United States for college, I am no longer able to regularly visit those veterans in China, but I still keep in touch with other volunteers from the charity, follow the official social media account of the charity, and keep up with the updates on these veterans. Now looking back, I notice that my own experience was not a singular case but part of a general trend. In fact, it is noteworthy that the historical perspective on KMT veterans had been significantly shifted, and many such changes took place in the 2000s. For instance, several TV shows positively portraying the KMT soldiers in WWII gradually came out. KMT veterans started to receive more positive digital media coverage and to be called as “the forgotten heroes”. Having been exposed to various kinds of digital media that delivered the positive portrayal of KMT soldiers, the younger generation started to critically re-evaluate the wartime efforts of KMT troops, and we reinforced the revised image of KMT veterans by sharing their stories using digital media. My personal connections with the KMT veterans and my experiences of using digital media to help them drive me to examine the general representation of KMT soldiers in Chinese digital media.
Since WWII has ended for a long time, the voices of the generation that went through the war have gradually died out. Nonetheless, the legacy of the war does not fade with time and even today the war is still recognized as significantly shaping Chinese society and Chinese identity. Although I have not gone through that political turmoil, my previous interactions with the war veterans and my engagement with digital media push me to pursue further research. My encounter with the TV shows uncovered a new world of historical research for me, and the following research not only enabled me to establish personal connections with the war veterans, but also allowed me to closely engage with digital media. Because digital media has profoundly shaped my historical perspective, I am passionate about conducting a project that examines the representation of KMT veterans in Chinese digital media and further explore the potential social or political dynamics behind the evolving collective memories of WWII within Chinese society. It is noteworthy that while the former KMT soldiers had long been marginalized in mainland China due to their previous political status, the representation of these veterans started to change in the 2000s. The shifting portrayal of Chinese WWII veterans in digital media indicates that Chinese people have started to address WWII with a nationalist approach by downplaying the partisan differences. I plan to explore this change by engaging with several TV shows (Soldiers and Their Commander, The Chinese Expeditionary Force, etc.), different social media platforms (WeChat and Weibo), websites, documentary videos, and personal experiences to support my claim. I also need to incorporate secondary literature in the realm of both media studies and history to assist my research. I argue that digital media has significantly shaped people’s collective memory and the changing historical perspective can be reinforced and reproduced by means of digital media. Because of my personal experiences with the research topic, I am passionate about this project.
For the research project this semester, I plan to examine the representation of women in digital advertisements, and further explore current perception of gender roles permeating in Chinese society. This topic has aroused my interest because I sometimes encounter disturbing advertisements that disrespect women on the internet. I hope to unpack the underlying dynamics and examine the gender power relationships indicated by these advertisements. I plan to analyze commercials from jewelry companies, car industries, and dating arrangement agencies.
I think making a website is an interesting process. This assignment pushes me to think about what I value most and how to present that in a rather straightforward and engaging way. In addition to uploading blog posts for our class, I plan to develop this website into a personal website. I want to post my works and my research interests here. In terms of personalization, I want my website to be concise and straightforward, so that the viewers can find the information easily. Therefore, I mainly use black and white in the theme, and make clear menu tabs at the top of my website. My inspiration mainly comes from one of my friend. When he applied to college, and created a website to display his works. Since I plan to apply to graduate programs next year, I think it would be great to have a site for my works related to digital media. In the future, I will enrich my website, and continue personalizing it. I do have one quick question for website making. Could you please tell me how I can upload my own photos to the website? Thanks for your help.
This semester I want to choose New York Times as my main news source. It is a well-known publication with worldwide influence and readership. Since I already read news from New York Times on a daily basis to get latest news in time, I would like to continue focusing on this news source throughout this semester.