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Chongqing Museums after the Upheaval: Exhibitions in the Wake of the Three Gorges Dam Migrations

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In the past twenty years, the Chongqing Municipality in China has experienced major social and territorial transformations. Created in 1997 as an autonomous administrative entity, it was partly formed to address the massive migration caused by the building of the Three Gorges Dam. This article explores how museums in the municipality’s cities of Chongqing, Wanzhou and Yunyang were developed after the Dam’s disruptions. Extensive ethnographic fieldwork identified the museum techniques that aimed to cope with the recent changes. Innovations included presentations of the pain suffered by migrants, and the reinvention of regional history based on former migrations and an ancient kingdom elevated to serve as the cradle of Chongqing culture.
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Keywords: Chinese cultural policies; Chongqing Municipality; Three Gorges Dam; heritage; migration; museums in China; regionalism in China

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Modern and Contemporary Chinese Studies

Publication date: February 1, 2015

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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