The problem of changing language communities: Veterans and memory writing in China, Taiwan, and Japan

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Abstract

This paper examines the role that veterans played in the construction of historical memory narratives in mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan. I argue that veterans, who had long established a 'language community' with a particular way to speak about the war, found it difficult to communicate with post-war audiences that did not share that experience. The paper analyses six categories of 'memory writing' that veterans used to engage with memory debates: post-war diaries, 'testimonial literature', articles and literary works, surveys and oral histories, memoirs, and paratext. This study thus proposes that veterans do not avoid discussion of war, but can only be 'heard' by members of their language community, or by a post-war society that is prepared to 'listen' to their message with little mediation. This is a direct consequence of their experience of the war, and how they crafted their language community at that time. © 2011 Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-429
Number of pages31
JournalModern Asian Studies
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

Keywords

  • KMT
  • Chinese Nationalists
  • Japan
  • diaries
  • memoirs
  • veterans
  • Taiwan
  • war memory

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