2019 Sydney Chinese Studies Seminar Series: The fascist aesthetics of Chinese wartime nationalism
2019 Sydney Chinese Studies Seminar Series
Organised by the Department of Chinese Studies in collaboration with the China Studies Centre ‘Language, Literature, Culture and Education’ Research Cluster
The fascist aesthetics of Chinese wartime nationalism: Wang Jingwei’s ‘New Citizens Movement’, 1942-44
Speaker: A/Prof Jeremy E. Taylor, University of Nottingham
This paper examines how the “occupation regime” led by the elder Chinese statesman Wang Jingwei sought to ideologically and aesthetically reinvent itself following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The new realities of Japan’s war with the Allies following this event meant that Wang’s hitherto “neutral” and “peace loving” administration needed to re-imagine itself as an Axis Power, while continuing to cleave to an ideology of Chinese revolutionary nationalism as it sought to strengthen its own legitimacy in the eyes of the occupied Chinese.
Based on archival and published material from Japanese-occupied China held in various institutions around the world, this paper will show how Wang’s regime attempted to stamp its own mark on the culture of the Axis world by adopting elements of what Andrea Germer has called “co-prosperity realism”, and by re-imagining the Chinese revolution through an Axis lens. Ironically, it did this not simply to align itself more closely with the war aims of the Japanese, but also as a means of ideologically challenging Japanese views of China, and Japanese ideas about China’s place within a Pan-Asianist world. Indeed, the “New Citizen’s Movement” that was introduced by Wang’s regime on New Year’s day 1942 presaged a large-scale attempt to picture occupied China as an ultra-nationalist power in its own right.
Jeremy E. Taylor is an associate professor of Modern Asian History at the University of Nottingham in the UK. He is the author of over 25 peer reviewed journal articles on the cultural history of the Chinese-speaking world, including papers (most recently) in Twentieth Century China, the Journal of Modern Chinese History, and Gender and History. He is also the author of Rethinking Transnational Chinese Cinemas (Routledge 2011) and founder of the “Enemy of the People” digital archive (https://www.dhi.ac.uk/chiangkaishek/). This paper is based on research Dr Taylor is currently undertaking as part of his European Research Council-funded Project COTCA (Cultures of Occupation in 20th Century Asia) (Horizon 2020; ERC Consolidator Grant 682081).