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Jiyi guanli de yishu: Dang zhengtong de dang'an guanli moxing gainian yu dangjin de xianshi fasheng chongtu shi 記憶管理的藝術: 當正統的檔案模型概念與當今的現實發生沖圖時

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abstract The development of archival theory in the PRC was largely conditioned by the merging of indigenous notions of archives with Soviet archival practices during the 1950s. Traditional imperial archives were set up and arranged to serve administrative and political tasks of the imperial court. Archival management was inseparably bound up with top-level politics and official historiography, which becomes most evident in the Qing-institution of the Grand Council. During the Republican period, archival practice oscillated between traditional methods and the adaptation of modern western notions. However, Republican era archives continued to facilitate official history writing and to serve the needs of state and party authorities. Looking at the Soviet Union, the theoretical basis of archival work was Lenin's concept of the "national archival fond", which means the state appropriation of all archival records regardless of their origin. The combination of historical determinism and centralized political control lent exceptional importance to the national documentary legacy and to the organization of a comprehensive archival system. The political center of the PRC legitimizes itself by a certain presentation of the past, which claims the "historical inevitability" and "infallibility" of CCP rule. Individual memories and historical documents not in accordance with orthodox chronology jeopardize the legitimizing genealogy of the state body and its political elite. Consequently, the Center attempts to suppress alternative memories and to implement an affirmative presentation of the past. The centralization of historical information in state archives and strict control over archival holdings allow a supervised, hierarchical and highly selective distribution of historical knowledge for the implementation of orthodox history. In China, "unified thinking", a homogenous collective memory is believed to be a major precondition to national stability and unity. Chinese archives not only serve as key institutions in the state's attempt to shape collective memory. During the Mao era, archival documents were considered to be of great value for the purposes of economic and political decision making, suppression of "class-enemies", ideological education and mass mobilization. Archivists were called upon to serve solid political tasks such as combing files in search of "class enemies" during political purges or mass campaigns, or collecting information on certain political leaders either to delegitimize their position or to justify their rehabilitation. Neither the political utilization of archives nor the attempt to monopolize the historical record and its exegesis for purposes of unifying collective memory are unique to China. However, the merging of Soviet archival practices and Marxist Leninist historical thinking with traditional concepts of history and indigenous notions of archival practice have lead to a unique way of "memory management", which is of major significance in PRC politics at large. Chinese archivists' foremost duty is to serve state politics and to protect the state's interests, and the huge and still expanding archival network of the PRC has been tailored to this end. Further considering the archival administration's strong ties to the very core of PRC party state leadership, one is inclined to imagine a powerful, Kafkaesque machinery. Unquestionably, its power is very real as the mass purges in PRC history have shown: archives were involved in all of the major campaigns of persecution. On the other hand however, the concept of "management of memory" in an environment of rapidly shifting requirements for legitimization contains its own contradictions and imponderablities. Since the launching of Reform, certain fields of archival work underwent a thorough readjustment while others largely continue the well-tried methods of the Mao era. The process of liberalization and commercialization, set in motion by the CCP, is gathering momentum. This unintended dynamic might undermine the prevailing concept of memory management: Increasing financial pressure imposed on the archival system has not only given rise to rather bizarre, though harmless, phenomena such as the Number One Historical Archives' own brand of schnapps. It may also increase the willingness on the part of archivists to interpret secrecy provisions more generously. Chinese professionals have cited economic constraints as an argument for additional liberalization. Apart from changes induced by financial pressure, the historiographical endeavor of Chinese archives comes into conflict with maintaining the framework of historical orthodoxy, since the ever growing number of source collections almost inevitably bring to light facts which do not conform with official interpretations. Once published, archival documents cannot be withdrawn again. Files which yesterday passed as harmless, may tomorrow turn out to be a subversive piece of evidence. The paper studies the changing body of normative rules governing archival practice in China (records appraisal and destruction, records arrangement or classification, access and utilization etc.) and how it is mediated with shifting policies, social hierarchies of information access, professional standards, traditional ethics, and the intrinsic messiness of bureaucratic structures.
type book chapter (English)
keywords China, Archive, Politik, Erinnerung, Geschichtskultur
book title Tianti, shenti yu guoti. Huixiang shijie de hanxue 天體、身體與國體 290;逥向世界的漢學
date of appearance 2005
publisher Taida chuban zhongxin (Taibei)
ISBN 986-00-2408-1
page(s) 459-514
citation Wagner, V. (2005). Jiyi guanli de yishu: Dang zhengtong de dang'an guanli moxing gainian yu dangjin de xianshi fasheng chongtu shi 記憶管理的藝術: 當正統的檔案模型 010;念與當今的現實發 生沖圖時. In Tianti, shenti yu guoti. Huixiang shijie de hanxue 天體、身體與國體 290;逥向世界的漢學 (pp. 459-514). Taibei: Taida chuban zhongxin. - ISBN 986-00-2408-1.