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Constructions of cultural memory - Research Paper Example

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Name Instructor Class 27 August 2013 The 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests: Citizen’s Rebellion versus China’s Autocracy The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 have one of the most arresting pictures in history- the image of the “Tank Man.” The Tank Man’s real identity has not been determined up to now, but he is famous for standing in front of a line of military tanks on the morning of June 5, 1989 near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China (See Figure 1)…
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Constructions of cultural memory
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Download file to see previous pages My research questions are: How is the cultural memory of Tiananmen Square Protests represented in the chosen resources and what are the changes that these memories seem to anticipate and argue for? How does the event continue to make history? Witty and Calhoun both represent the event’s cultural memory by describing some of the most critical turning points of the Tiananmen Square protests, although Witty emphasizes rebellion against autocracy through the Tank Man’s photo, while Calhoun analyzes the actions and thoughts of people who were in the midst of shaping democratic ideals in their own terms. Figure 1: Widener’s Photo of the Tank Man Source: Widener (1989 in Witty) In the article, “Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen,” Witty uses four photos of the Tank Man to represent different perspectives of the Tiananmen Square Protests, where these images try to underline that this man symbolizes the struggles of all ordinary people against government repression and corruption, but because of lack of violence of some photos, it somehow hides the gruesome effects of the government’s crackdown on the protesters. ...
The cultural memory focuses on four tanks that are ready to crush all those who oppose and criticize the state and one man who will not be crushed at all. The light post represents urban space through manifesting technology and modernity. The action of the man against the tanks and the cropped lamp post together signify that non-violent action is light in the darkness because rationality meets irrationality. Standing tall like the lamp post, the Tank Man symbolizes democracy and hope for the people. The photo further shows that the tanks are approaching and one man with his shopping bags stand before them. Like others before him, the Tank Man stands in front of the state’s military tools, a memory which argues that he, as well as other ordinary people like him, will fight for democracy anytime and he will not even need tanks to do it. He only needs his resolve and principles, which hundreds to thousands others already offered when they died the night of the Chinese government’s crackdown. The photo argues that the state does not have absolute power because the people have power to fight for what is absolutely right for them- the right to oppose and to replace a corrupt and oppressive government. Furthermore, from Witty’s article, the Tiananmen Square protests continue to make history because it portrays an ordinary man’s greatest act of courage and integrity against symbols of oppression. The photo shows that the Tank Man seems to be an office employee with his white shirt and black pants. He is an ordinary man with two white shopping bags, the image of an urban dweller that the state wants to control. The photo argues that he is one man against the state’s violence, and yet because he has had enough, he will stand for his principles of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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