, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 335–357 | Cite as

Haunting memories of war in Chinese cinema and diaspora: Visions of national trauma, power and autoethnographic collage

  • Nathan M To
Original Article


The transgenerational ghosts of trauma from war, death and injustice within Chinese twentieth century history are carried through the remembrances and silences of mediated, diasporic visions of memory. These ghosts are visible through Chinese cinema at the intersection of modern China’s national interests, issues of power and the transnational distribution/production of official memory. These relations also suggest an insistence to produce particular national, unified identifications within the collective imaginations of spectators across generations in the Chinese diaspora. While some national wounds are ‘chosen’ and remembered (for example, Western colonialism, Imperial Japanese invasion), other collective traumas continue to be disavowed through cinematic memory productions. In response to these issues of historical rewriting and memory production, I propose alternate ways of seeing cinema through a critical autoethnography that juxtaposes other mediations of memory. I explore how this approach to cinema spectatorship enables diasporic subjects to interrogate how affective trauma transmits unconsciously across generations.


transgenerational transmission traumatic memory diaspora Chinese cinema hauntings autoethnography 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan M To
    • 1
  1. 1.Ronin Institute

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