December 30, 2006

The uses and abuses of Genghis Khan in History and Politics: A theme explored in the Granite Studio

Staying on the theme of my last post about Kirkuk, I've just come across this wonderful post about the use of the memory of Genghis Khan to legitimate Chinese imperialism. Its not often I do this and won't make a habit of it but this post illustrates the way that history can be used by political groups in such an interesting and convincing way that it is indispensible. I have heard lectures on the subject which draw back the use of Genghis Khan through the centuries, the Japanese in World War Two used him as an icon of their empire and China does today. I would add only one note to the Granite Studio's description- that Genghis is a conqueror who overawed the West, consequently to Asian powers, insecure in what they see as a recent world of Western imperialism, turn to him to reinforce their credentials as great powers as against the West. Its a fascinating post on a subject which intrigues me- go and read it.

4 comments:

james higham said...

There is little doubt that the Chinese, in order to prepare for the coming expansion, are getting their "history" in order first. I have a longish post coming out tomorrow on China and this inclusion of Genghis Khan is yet another in the "all hands to the wheel" mentality. They are no longer nourishing obscurity but they are still biding their time.

Gracchi said...

I'll be looking forward to your post.

rahuldeepgill@yahoo.com said...

Don't forget that such appropriations of Chengiz Khan are, in the end, appropriations. He was a nomadic, tribal warlord. I've heard that in 2006 Mongolia also had a celebration of hist 800 year anniversary of conquest.

Gracchi said...

Yes I agree with you rahuldeepgill- to me the whole concept of nationality is something that a society needs to be proved to have before I'll accept it.