Sound, image, rhetorical strategy and traumatic memory in Ai Xiaoming’s Our Children | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1059-440X
  • E-ISSN: 2049-6710



This study examines Ai Xiaoming’s Women de wawa/Our Children (2009), an independent film documentary about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake where over 50,000 children died in collapsed school buildings. The analysis draws on film-making techniques, issues in modern Chinese media and politics and psychology, and trauma studies. Our Children reveals a violent process of governmental oppression that attempted to erase traumatic memory. As a result of the politically enforced amnesia, the earthquake victims were doubly victimized. Because crucial information related to the trauma – the quality of the school buildings – remains inaccessible, and the official explanation is unacceptable, the trauma continually haunts the traumatized victims, as well as the society at large. However, by drawing on everyday people’s testimonies and an abundance of images from digital phones and cameras, Our Children succeeded in preserving both individual and public traumatic memories and allowed some people to heal.


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