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Asian Studies

Cultural Politics of Memory: Why Tank Man Still Matters

Date: 4:30pm PDT April 25, 2013 Location: Miller Hall 102

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Miller Hall 102

In 1989, a long protester stepped out into the middle of the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, China and halted the forward progress of a column of Chinese tanks.  Nearby photographers captured the scene on film and the resulting photograph has become one of world’s most easily recognized iconic images.  In 2003, Time Magazine memorialized the Tank Man photo as one of the “100 photos that changed the world.”


The Tank Man photo quickly became a cipher for conversations about human rights democratic process and authoritarian governance.  This talk looks at contemporary appropriations of the Tank Man photo to consider how the iconic image is being used in the West in new ways, no longer solely as a reflection on China’s lack of democracy and problematic human rights record, but also as a reflection on a post 9/11 western world  that has witnessed decreasing civil rights, increased surveillance and censorship. 

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Asian Studies

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