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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Remembering Different Pasts: An Analysis of History Textbooks in Mainland China and Taiwan

  • Author(s): Ye, Anyi
  • Advisor(s): Wills, John S.
  • et al.

History textbooks often cause friction in diplomatic relations between nations, especially between East Asian countries. Several studies have demonstrated that revisions to history textbooks can be the result of changes in a state’s interests, resulting in different, often conflicting, accounts of historical events in history textbooks that represent the political ideologies of different nations. Despite the large number of studies of textbook content, there has been limited research examining the representation of specific historical events in the high school history textbooks of Mainland China and Taiwan. This investigation analyzed two widely used textbook series in Mainland China and Taiwan, focusing on the accounts of four armed conflicts — the Battle of Penghu, the First Sino-Japanese War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Chinese Civil War — to discover if these textbooks presented different accounts of these events and if so, if these accounts reflected the different ideological interests of these nations. Findings indicate that these textbooks do present different accounts of historical events and that these represent official historical narratives that reflect the differing political ideologies of Mainland China and Taiwan and that these narratives provide students with collective memories of the past that shape the national identities of Chinese and Taiwanese citizens.

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