Mobilizing the dead in wartime Chongqing

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This paper examines how Republican China mobilized the war dead for nation building during the 1940s. In 1940, the Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek, having evacuated to Chongqing, sought to affirm its status against Wang Jingwei’s collaborationist government in Nanjing by building a Loyal Martyrs’ Shrine (zhonglie ci) at the site of the Guan-Yue Temple. The existing temple and its estate provided an island of normalcy and livelihood for Daoist followers, spiritual cultivation advocates, business owners, and refugee farmers, whose presence and memories of war were erased by the government’s urgent need to monopolize religiosity, power, and prestige. Ironically, after the Loyal Martyrs’ Shrine in the alternate capital was completed, it immediately fell into disuse. In 1945, a victory celebration was held at Fuxing (Futu) Pass, an open space, signaling the need for a different mode of war commemoration that would resonate more with the role the Chinese military had played during World War II. In the meantime, the Loyal Martyrs’ Shrine converted from the Guan-Yue Temple quickly filled with tenants once more. Consequently, from 1946 to 1948, the Chongqing Municipal Government again tried to evict the living in order to commemorate the dead of the Chinese Civil War.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-287
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Modern Chinese History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • Chongqing
  • Loyal Martyrs’ Shrine
  • nation-state
  • Nationalist Party
  • the dead
  • war commemoration
  • World War II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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