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Re-Imaging an Ancient, Emergent Superpower: 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Public Memory, and National Identity

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Abstract:

On August 8, 2008, Beijing orchestrated a grand opening ceremony for the Twenty-Ninth Olympic Games. Amid the People's Republic of China's inexorable emergence as a superpower in the world, the ceremony provided a valuable glimpse into contemporary Chinese political and social circumstances. Employing public memory as the conceptual framework to unravel this momentous spectacle, this essay argues that the Chinese government erected a new national identity, through historico-cultural invocations and reconfigurations of Chinese and global memories. Yet such rhetorical exploits also betrayed the Chinese government's intense pursuit of politico-ideological legitimacy in the globalizing world, which has increasingly been challenged by Chinese and global publics.

Keywords: Beijing Olympics; China Rise; National Identity; Public Memory; Rhetorical Criticism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2012.676657

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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