Events Calendar

Aries Li: RCHA Seminar

Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 11:00am - 01:00pm

Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis
2022-2023 Seminar Series:
“Repairing The Past”
Co-directors, Jochen Hellbeck (History) and Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan (History)

February 14, 2023

Aries Li

“Repairing the Past: Chinese Grassroots Memory Actors and the Restoration and Expansion of the Cemetery for Aviation Martyrs in Nanjing

Tuesday, February 14, 2023: 11 am--1:00 pm (hybrid)


Scholars have often treated China’s commemoration of World War II as top-down nationalist projects led by either the state or intellectual elites who followed the Communist Party’s narratives. This approach overlooks the important roles of grassroots memory actors, who promoted certain memories for contemporary causes and had an impact on China’s commemorative landscape. Focusing on the activities of a group of grassroots memory actors, this article reveals how they negotiated with the Chinese state and succeeded in restoring and expanding the Cemetery for Aviation Martyrs in Nanjing from the early 1980s to 2000s. The negotiation process was not easy, considering the cemetery mainly commemorated martyrs from the Nationalist Air Force who were killed in China’s war against Japan. These grassroots memory actors included China’s WWII veterans, their family members and supporters. The attention to these Chinese veterans also adds to our limited knowledge on veteran activism in China. 

Please email Jochen Hellbeck at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request the paper.