Contesting the past on the Chinese Internet: Han-centrism and mnemonic practices

Yi Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Digital technology has brought critical changes to mnemonic practices in China, such as the empowerment of social groups to discover previously underrepresented historical accounts and produce alternative historical narratives. This article examines the mnemonic practices of Han-centrism, a type of ethnic and cultural nationalist movement based on the Chinese Internet. It analyzes how Han-centrist netizens reinterpret national history through their efforts to rediscover forgotten historical narratives of glory and trauma. It suggests that digital technology in China facilitates the emergence of online groups that are dedicated to the struggle for “historical truth” and social-cultural changes, motivated by a crisis of identity. Their mnemonic practices may be partly tolerated by the authoritarian state under some conditions. However, given China’s complicated and conflictual history, such online groups can easily turn the Internet into a battlefield of nationalism. This article highlights the confusion and contestation of memory and identity in contemporary China and the role of digital technology in the long battle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-317
Number of pages14
JournalMemory Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese Internet
  • Han-centrism
  • collective memory
  • digital memory
  • identity
  • nationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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