Forgetting and Denying: Iris Chang, the Holocaust and the Challenge of Nanking
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- MacDonald, D. Int Polit (2005) 42: 403. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800111
This article problematizes representations of Chinese victimization during World War II as a ‘Holocaust’ or ‘Forgotten Holocaust’. Literature on the Jewish Holocaust suggests that comparing other genocides to it benefits the non-Jewish group. Opinions differ as to whether Jewish history suffers, and whether such comparisons are justified. Using studies of the rape of Nanking in 1937 by Iris Chang and Chinese Diaspora groups, I argue that while using the Holocaust as a means of packaging Chinese suffering may initially stimulate interest, and help to highlight the problems of Japanese denialism, extending such parallels too far creates problems of representation. This includes distorting the roles of victimized and perpetrator nations, decontextualizing victims and events, while advancing a number of inaccurate comparisons with both Germans and Jews.