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Final Report Summary - MEMORYROC (Reconstructing Memory From Lost Revolutionaries of the Chinese Republic)

Reconstructing Memory From Lost Revolutionaries of the Chinese Republic (MemoryROC) is a collection and presentation of primary documents and interviews from local and overseas Chinese about events of the Republican period and their profound influence on the formation of global Chinese identity. I curated artifacts, executed filmed interviews and photographs that provide memoir material for the Republican period. For the final phase, I have been organizing the research accomplished in this project for a monograph. I have also designed and launched a virtual archive at, which nucleates a community by offering the possibility for active participation and contribution. I completed a documentary film which I have used in the classroom for education purposes. This project is based on memories of interviewees that I met worldwide.
During this project, I was able to meet about 75 interviewees in person, and many more in the virtual world, numbering 200 at least. The Marie Curie IOF fellowship provided me with the resources to identify, meet, and interview interviewees whose advanced age required some flexibility on my part. About 35 agreed to share their photos and personal archives with me, and about 25 agreed to interviews. Of these, about 20 gave interviews that were usable in the documentary film, the content of which I shot independently during the meetings. In every case I researched the context of the interview well beforehand and copiously, using holdings from libraries, archives and requesting information from each interviewee well before the meeting. In order to train for the technical issues I worked with a professional, and through that training learned to shoot, edit and master film material.
In terms of other results, I was able to complete several publications. Mid-way through the project I was able to publish, with co-editor Puk Wing Kin, The Collected Annotations of Liao Entao’s Poetry (Guangdong People’s Press, 2016). This two volume set of 1000+ pages chronicles the memories, through poetry, of this Qing regime and Republican diplomat. For the Journal of East Asian Studies (Cambridge UP). I have been publishing book reviews on books that offer new perspectives or expert scholarship on the Republican period. So far these include a review of “Asia and the Great War (Xu Guoqi),” (2017); a review of Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and Nationalism in Republican China (Grace Shen) (2017) and a forthcoming review of Fateful Ties (Gordon Chang) (2018). I was also exploring related topics on Chinese and English translation that I was able to publish in “Reinventing Translation” in The New Centennial Review. Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring 2016. I have finished a documentary comprised of the short movie interviews I shot of all my interviewees. My website, has been launched, and my hope is that this virtual archive will continue to generate exchange within the community interested in alternative narratives in the domain of Chinese cultural history. My final goal is to publish a text based on my research that will illuminate the interviews, the historical context, and the dramatic narratives that underlie this project.
This project will be a resource for scholars, laymen and its penetration of this particular societal group is dramatic and state of the art. The community of descendants can revisit their identities, organize their personal archives and enter into a larger societal context in which their story can be told, and validated. Observers and those who access the site, documentary and other resources this project has generated can gain an inside understanding to what occurred for these descendants as they made their transitions from the Republic to the Communist period in China, and in many cases from China to new countries. While capturing the broad arc of diaspora, this project also shed light on individual concerns and voices to humanize the historical events that have often been narrated using public rather than private archives. This project will inspire re-animation of this period of history through multiple individual viewpoints and stories, while also generating interest in modern mediums of disseminating the historical content.

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