Renarrating the "western territories:" Training programs for college students in China's Far West

Alessandra Cappelletti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper shows how history is rewritten in China by shaping the memories of its youth, who create new communities by sharing and renarrating new memories. They can become a powerful channel to convey an official interpretation of local histories to a larger public, by marginalizing and appropriating local narratives. The idea behind the program for voluntary narrators under analysis "Explaining Dunhuang - 2019 University students' summer programme to become voluntary narrator at Mogao grottoes". The original name of the program in Chinese is Jieshuo Dunhuang - 2019 Mogao ku gaoxiao shuqi zhiyuan jiangjieyuan. is to shape memories of China's young and wealthy students about a place, by transforming its rich cross-cultural fundamentals, symbolic and inner meanings, into a representation of the Nation, able to convey powerful declinations of official narratives on the history of China. The analysis is conducted in consideration of the larger context of the construction and transmission of the official discourse on national identity in contemporary PRC. Specifically, the author provides evidence of how young Chinese internalize and disseminate the party line on Chineseness, and the subordinate role assigned within this process to "minorities."Minorities are seen both as a threat and an opportunity: a threat to the Party and social cohesion as carriers of diverse identities, an opportunity for contrasting Chineseness with the Other, a backward entity, inadequate and unable to embrace - if not help - the path to modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-50
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Nationalism Memory and Language Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • China's youth
  • Chinese history
  • Dunhuang
  • community
  • memories
  • national minorities
  • renarrating


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