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1989 Tiananmen Square: A Proto-History

Lucero, Karman Miguel

It is a commonly held belief that Chinese history is ancient, and, in fact, is one of the longest
histories of any present-day nation. What exactly does this mean? One aspect of Chinese history
that could explain this phenomenon is that two thousand years ago, China was still China. It has
an unbroken, magnificent history spanning several millennia. This could be due to China‘s rich
literary history or that many invaders adopted Chinese culture and political structure. Regardless
of the reason for China‘s incredible cultural staying power, the fact that China‘s history can be
deemed as ‗long‘ or ‗longer‘ demonstrates the importance of history when discussing China and
that history itself is not dependent on time alone, but is also a philosophical imposition. In other
words, history is constructed, it is an analytical interpretation that creates and defines personal,
political, cultural, and intellectual significance. In this regard, China‘s history is epic.
It is interesting to note, however, that such a grandiose history excludes particular events.
While studying abroad in China in 2010, I wanted to write a history of the 1989 Tiananmen
Square protests, but found myself unable to do so. In China today, there is no official record of
the events, not even an official recognition that they took place. The subject is forbidden. If any
archive exists, it is not available to scholars or the public. How does one write a history of
something that is forbidden and for which there is no archive? This paper is an attempt to do just
that, to seek a historical discourse from the knowledge fragments and memories that linger in the
face of suppression.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
History
Thesis Advisors
Ngai, Mae
Degree
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 6, 2011
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