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This paper explores two types of investment in the current People’s Republic of China, both of which promote fantasies about the past and future, presumably as a way to forestall uncomfortable conversations about the present. But the author is less interested in state decisions than in what makes an unofficial person “buy into” such fantasies. Her answer is, “misperceptions about tradition” (some intentionally fostered by the Chinese Communist Party), longstanding cultural preoccupations (some distorted in the current climate), and genuine desires to secure honor and glory in an insecure world. Her largely diagnostic paper briefly considers possible responses to the question, “What, in such a dire situation, can be done to introduce more complex notions of sedimented identities?”
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