In August I was one of some 3,000 historians attending the International Congress of the Historical Sciences meeting in Jinan, China. While I’d been to other congresses this one was special because it was the inaugural meeting of the International Federation for Public History as an internal commission. I was part of a panel on Teaching Public History Internationally which you can read about here. Alix Green has also commented brilliantly about the Congress on her blog. For me, though, it was the fact that I was a public historian in China (Beijing, Jinan, X’ian) during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945) that was so intriguing. A few days after my arrival banners and photos appeared on the walls of my neighbourhood Beijing hutong, slogans were posted in tube stations and bus shelters, newspaper and television ads promised dozens of documentaries and soap operas, and new exhibits opened up almost daily. Just before leaving Beijing for the congress I stumbled across the dress rehearsal for the massive military parade due to be held on September 3rd when some 12,000 military personnel, tanks, artillery, missiles and aircraft would parade in Tian’anmen Square. I watched it on tv in Xi’an, walked that famous city’s walls and managed to catch a temporary exhibit of veterans’ photographs up for the day, and caught the end of the official state opera. Beijing was back to normal on 4 September, but Tian’anmen Square was still drawing crowds to see the remnants of the spectacle. I’ve chosen not to write a commentary in this blog, at least for now. Instead I offer a narrative through the photographs I took: public history in pictures. Enjoy.

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