National heroes are important in the development of nationalist thinking. One important figure in this context is General Yue Fei (1103–42), who unsuccessfully fought the invading Jurchen in the twelfth century. Shortly after his execution, a temple was built in his honour in Hangzhou. Local chronicles show that this temple was constantly renovated in later dynasties. Due to his continuous worship as a loyal warrior—even during the Qing dynasty—his temple became a powerful site of identity. His veneration as a national hero in the course of the twentieth century has, however, posed a problem to a post-1911 China that felt compelled to sustain a multi-ethnic nation-state, whilst at the same time facing the difficulty of not being able to do without General Yue Fei. This article shall make it apparent that his resurrection as a national hero in the twentieth century was possible because of certain narrative strategies that had already been propagated by the Manchurian rulers of the eighteenth century
Frontiers of History in China – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Keywords: Yue Fei; national heroes; Chinese nationalism; historical memory
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