The Politics of Imagining and Forgetting in Chinese Ethnic Minorities' Museums


  • Marzia Varutti



China, museums, ethnic minorities, memory, imagination


Through an exploration of the representation of ethnic minorities in the museums of Kunming, Yunnan Province of China, this article discusses the active role that museums play in the processes of memory and identity engineering, whereby museum images and narratives are used to support collective imagination about ethnic minorities' identities and past. Drawing from a comparative analysis of museum displays in Kunming, I discuss how the image of ethnic minorities is conveyed through a selective process of i) remembering and emphasizing specific cultural elements, ii) forgetting other elements, and lastly, iii) modifying the perception of ethnic minorities relation to the Han majority. By revealing the extent and modalities through which museum representations manipulate ethnic minorities' identities in China, the analysis aims to contribute to our understanding of the multiple ways in which museums act as sites for the enactment of collective memory and imagination.




How to Cite

Varutti, M. (2010). The Politics of Imagining and Forgetting in Chinese Ethnic Minorities’ Museums. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 12(2), 69–82.