井底之蛙

10/14/2007

China on display

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 5:18 pm

Playfair

Historians have been very interested in World’s Fairs, international exhibitions and such for a while now. This is in part because of Gellner and Anderson’s ideas about nationalism, and above all the idea of a nation as an imagined community. Looking at a country’s exhibit at some sort of international do is a quick and easy way to figure out what their imagined community is, or at least what the people responsible would like to claim that it is to an audience of foreigners.
We are in the run-up to one of these events now, the Beijing Olympics. Lots of people (including lots of people in the Chinese government) are aware that this will be China’s big moment of exposure, and they are trying to spin how China will be seen long before the first shot is put. China Rights Forum has a whole issue out on it on this which can be found on-line here I liked Chen Kuide’s essay where he hopes that the Beijing Olympics will end up like the Seoul Olympics, where international attention may have helped the democracy movement, rather than like the Hitler Olympics where the Olympic movement served to validate the power of one of history’s greatest monsters. Even more interesting was Xu Jilin’s essay The Making of a True Athletic Superpower Xu contrasts the current Olympics with what he saw in Vancouver in 2004.

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