Does History Education Promote Nationalism in China? A 'Limited Effect' Explanation - By CWP Alumni Dingding Chen

Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
by dsuchens

Most studies of Chinese nationalism are based on an unstated and unexamined assumption that history education in Chinese schools can effectively instill the official memory of the anti-Japanese war into students. This article tests this assumption through a multi-method study based on a survey, a textual analysis and qualitative interviews with high school students and teachers. The findings show that history education (including both in-class and extracurricular forms) has limited effects on nationalism among Chinese high school students. The in-class textbook education is largely ineffective in forging nationalistic sentiments among students, whereas some extracurricular activities, such as visiting the ‘patriotic education bases’, have limited effects. The limited effects can be explained by four factors: (1) changes in the content and form of the new history textbooks; (2) the students’ and teachers’ actual uses of the textbooks; (3) the students’ cognitive and emotional agency in receiving history education; and (4) alternative information sources such as the media and family memory. This study contributes to the understanding of Chinese nationalism and historical memory by emphasizing the complexity involved in receiving official narratives.


Does History Education Promote Nationalism in China? A ‘Limited Effect’ Explanation

Licheng Qian,Bin Xu &Dingding Chen

Pages 199-212 | Published online: 27 Sep 2016

Dingding Chen