Two young visitors to the Opium War Museum in Dongguan, Guangdong. Source: City Weekend.
Where can we find public history?
Locate as many examples of public history as you can find in the chapter. Pause very briefly for each to identify why it is an example of public history. For example, on page 347, the Central China Television documentary, "Road to Revival" (Fuxing zhi lu 复兴之路). It would count as public history because it presents the Opium War (and other historical episodes) to the Chinese public through the medium of television.
Select one of these episodes to zoom in on for further investigation. Feel free to do a quick search online to supplement the information available in Lovell, though do try to focus on the questions below:
Did anything in the chapter confuse or surprise you?
From Lovell’s work, we have identified a range of different ways the Chinese public has encountered the history of the Opium War. To what extent does it make sense to talk about school curriculum in the same discussion as museums—and indeed video games?
What are some of the ways that the history of the Opium War(s) in China was discussed in the years after 1989? What might be some reasons for this change?
How did the patriotic education initiative change the way the Opium War was understood, particularly by young Chinese?
Based on what you could gather from the conclusion, how is history education different from history education in the United States? Do you see them different in degree or in kind? What about similarities?
For what purpose do you believe history should be taught?
Homework: Assignment #105
East India Company's iron steamship, Nemesis, destroying Chinese war junks in January 1841. Wikimedia.
Views on opium
Opium: opium, the opium trade, and the Opium War and its aftermath
Exercise: “Who is responsible?”