8 months ago


Movement and the Chinese

Movement and the Chinese Diaspora, 1919- 1932 (New York: Routledge Press, 2003, 2007, 2013) and Modern China (Association for Asian Studies, 2012), and Contested Communities: Identities, Spaces, and Hierarchies of the Chinese in Havana, 1902-1968 (Brill, 2017). He has also researched Brethren mission peacemaking activities in China, and has published his findings in the Journal of Asian History. David Kenley Dr. Kenley is Professor of Chinese History and Director of the Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking at Elizabethtown College. His teaching and research interests focus on Chinese intellectual history and overseas migration. Some of his representative publications include New Culture in a New World: The May Fourth

War Memorials: Picturing Peace or Graphic Reminders of Violence They were arranged in neat rows, one on top of the other. Each was a dingy greyish color, not the bright sun-bleached white you often see in the movies. Row upon row they were stacked up, reaching to the ceiling at the top of the pagoda, maybe 20 or 30 feet above my head. It was, in essence, a sacred cathedral constructed of discolored human skulls. Should I take a photo of them? Should I stand in front of the pile and ask someone to take a photo with me in it? Certainly this wasn’t the right time for a “selfie.” That was beyond the question. But what is the right thing to do at a place such as this? Some of those around me were crying, but the overwhelming size of this pile of skulls was quite numbing, leaving me feeling strangely dumbfounded. When Cambodia’s government authorities decided to build this Killing Fields Memorial to the victims of Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime, how exactly did they want me to respond as a first-time visitor? More importantly what do the souls who formerly possessed these skulls think about this monument? After being beaten, tortured, and beheaded, are they happy to contribute to this massive jigsaw puzzle, or to they feel doubly victimized to be publically displayed for the purpose of shock and awe? Is this the proper way to memorialize the dead, and if not, is it justified to use them to educate others, forcing them never to forget? As a professional historian, I am fascinated with the ways in which politicians, journalists, film-makers, and museum curators seek to preserve the past and teach appropriate lessons for those who will follow. For better or for worse, I have visited and studied many war memorials around the world. Some, such as the World War II memorial in Washington, are celebratory and triumphalist. Others, including its neighboring Vietnam memorial just a stone’s throw away, are serene, somber, and quite literally reflective. Many, including the memorial in Cambodia, are graphic, disturbing, and even nauseating. Like the Killing Fields pagoda, the Rape