China Perspectives 2011/1


The National Learning Revival

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China Perspectives 2011/1

Special Feature

Editorial Page 2

Arif Dirlik

Guoxue/National Learning in the Age of Global Modernity Page 4

Arif Dirlik

ABSTRACT: Guoxue as an idea and intellectual pursuit has a history of roughly a century in China. From its origins in the last decade of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), it has been integral to the search for a past that is appropriate to the formation of China as a nation. At the same time, its constitution over time has varied with changing conceptions of the nation, as well as its place in the world. Interest in guoxue declined during the height of the revolution, from the 1940s through the 1960s, but has enjoyed resurgence since the 1990s among scholars and the general public alike. This time around, it expresses a newfound pride in the past that has accompanied success in development, as well as an urge to bring inherited cultural legacies and modes of scholarship into a global dialogue on culture. While very much rooted in the history of modern China, it also parallels in this new phase a reassertion globally of traditions suppressed under the regime of Euromodernity. Its content remains vague, however, and subject to contention from different ideological perspectives.
KEYWORDS: guoxue, kokugaku, national learning, global modernity, nativism, cosmopolitanism, ethno-epistemology, ruxue, Confucianism

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The Revival of Guoxue: Historical Antecedents and Contemporary Aspirations Page 14

John Makeham

ABSTRACT : After some opening remarks on the recent commodification of guoxue, I first trace the rise of guoxue in the contemporary period, and then I examine two topics in more detail: guoxue’s historical and contemporary transformation into an academic discipline; and the immediate origins of guoxue’s pronounced ethnoepistemological character. Through this examination my aim is to bring into greater relief some of the aspirations invested in guoxue by its contemporary protagonists, and also to highlight some of the conundrums associated with those aspirations.
KEYWORDS : Guoxue, academic discipline, ruxue, ethnoepistemology, Chinese philosophy, cultural identity

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The National Studies Craze: The Phenomena, the Controversies, and Some Reflections Page 22

Chen Jiaming

ABSTRACT: This article first gives a brief description of the phenomena of the revival of traditional studies and culture (Guoxue Craze) in mainland China, then presents and critiques the controversies that surround them, including questions of what “national studies” are, whether the national studies craze is “artificial heat,” and the emergence of “Confucian fundamentalism” in the national studies craze, etc. It finally offers some reflections on these phenomena, such as the danger of getting bogged down in parochial nationalism; the infeasibility of China relying on Confucian traditional culture to achieve modernisation; and the absurdity of attempts by Confucian fundamentalism to use “Confucianism to solve all of China’s problems.”

KEY WORDS: national studies craze, China’s modernisation, Confucian fundamentalism

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National Learning, National Literature, and National Language Page 32

Qingsheng Tong

ABSTRACT: This essay is a critical reaction to the movement for the revival and constitution of guoxue (national learning), not just as a system of indigenous knowledge and scholarship, but also as an embodiment of Chinese national culture. Situating the conceptualisation of guoxue in the context of the May Fourth new cultural movement, the essay attempts to show: a) that guoxue is a category devoid of substance, not least because its classificatory scope cannot be adequately defined, b) that guoxue was invented in the early twentieth century in response to the pressures created by the influx of Western learning that had begun to unsettle and displace forms of classical learning, and c) that the idea of guoxue is rooted in the conviction of the singularity of national culture. Historically, guoxue has opposed such national projects as national language and national literature. Revisiting a selection of representative views of progressive May Fourth and communist intellectuals on the need to develop and construct a new national language and literature for China’s modernisation, the essay argues for the need to develop a historical understanding of the process in which classical learning has been displaced and to recognise the importance of this process for the development of China’s intellectual modernity.

KEYWORDS: National learning, national language, national literature, intellectual modernity, third-world intellectuals

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Guoxue Re and the Ambiguity of Chinese Modernity Page 39

Xie Shaobo

ABSTRACT: This essay addresses the symbolic or socio-ideological significance of what is called guoxue re in China today. In the author’s view, as a concept with a fixed morphological form, guoxue has been traversing history with a changing content, and for different people or social groups it means different things and serves different interests. The catachrestically used term guoxue acquires an imploding ambiguity when it is manipulated to accommodate different needs and desires in the contemporary Chinese culture and commodity market. The kaleidoscopic vertiginous guoxue landscape in China, the essay argues, ultimately points to an unmistakable collusion among the state government, the academic elite, and the commodity market. As such, the imploding ambiguity of the concept and discourse of guoxue bears a continuity with the ambiguity of Chinese modernity, which at present is a conglomerate of capitalism, Marxism, Confucianism, economism or developmentalism, and harmonious society. Moreover, the contemporary guoxue re betrays an innermost desire in the Chinese national unconscious for a different genuinely existing social order, and for other ways of being human than those defined by capitalist modernity while China is being dominated by the rule of capital.

KEYWORDS: guoxue, ambiguity, Confucian values, modernity, market, capitalism

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National Learning (Guoxue): Six Perspectives and Six Definitions Page 46

Liu Dong

ABSTRACT: This article explores the intertwined six meanings of Guoxue (national learning) in the historical and cultural context of the inventions and the transformations of the notions of Guoxue from the late Qing to the Republican period. The article regards Guoxue, which was based on the Chinese value system and learning tradition, as a vital cultural force to challenge Western-dominated modernity and to reconfirm the Chinese identity. According to the article, Guoxue expressed a self-restricted definition of indigenous learning in forced acknowledgment of a powerful cultural other in a context of Western oppression. In this context of extensive cultural interactions, Guoxue adopted an open and critical approach toward “Western Learning” while maintaining a sympathetic and respectful attitude toward the indigenous cultural tradition. This dialectical approach paved the road for the success of the Tsinghua Academy of Chinese Learning. The article asserts that “Western learning,” once introduced into China, could be transformed into new “Guoxue.” By calling to restore the comprehensiveness of traditional culture and the versatility of education, the article also warns the mechanical division of knowledge from “Western learning,” which directly led to the chaos of the Chinese value system. By suggesting an open-minded approach to all academic studies on China, the article also elaborates the boundaries and differences between Guoxue and externally formulated Sinology and “Chinese Studies.”

KEYWORDS: Guoxue (National Learning), Confucianism, Chinese Essence and Western Function, Guogu (National Tradition), Western Learning, Sinology, Chinese Studies

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The Climate Debate Held Hostage by the G2 Page 56

Jean-Paul Maréchal

Three Generations of Women under the Same Roof Work, gender and social integration in a migrant quarter of Shanghai Page 64

Tania Angeloff

ABSTRACT: Taking as a starting-point a qualitative survey carried out between June and November 2007 in an old migrant quarter that was in the process of being demolished, men and women aged between 17 and 82 were questioned in-depth on their life histories, with particular attention paid to their relationship to work. The aim of the research was initially to raise the issue of lines of segmentation and social and geographical – even ethnic – inequalities in relation to employment from a gender perspective. It emerges that the difference between men and women alone cannot explain inequalities in success and integration. A generational approach centred on the women interviewed enabled us to shed light on individual trajectories within a wider historical context, sometimes refuting certain preconceived ideas on such or such a period in history, which though bloody or violent overall, paradoxically had emancipating and integrating effects in terms of employment for certain migrant women.
KEYWORDS: Gender, women, generations, migration, history, Shanghai, work, integration

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Current Affairs

China Analysis Page 74

Jérôme DoyonMathieu Duchâtel

The US return to Asia does not close the window on China’s strategic opportunity

Xinjiang and Sino-Turkish Ties

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Urban Planning and Cyber-Citizenry in China: How the 2.0 opposition organises itself Page 77

Nicolas Douay

Review Essay

A Hong Kong Miracle of a Different Kind: Dung Kai-cheung’s writing/action and Xuexi niandai (The Apprenticeship) Page 80

David Der-wei Wang

Book Reviews

Alain Roux, Le singe et le tigre : Mao, un destin chinois Page 86

Lucien Bianco

Marie-Claire Bergère, Shanghai: China’s Gateway to Modernity Page 87

Jeffrey Wasserstorm

Lu Xun, Cris (Call to Arms) Page 89

Victor Vuilleumier

Melvyn C. Goldstein, Ben Jiao and Tanzen Lhundrup, On the Cultural Revolution in Tibet: The Nyemo Incident of 1969 Page 90

Ronald Schwartz

Li Xiangping, Xinyang dan bu rentong: Dangdai zhongguo xinyang de shehuixue quanshi (Believing without Identifying: The Sociological Interpretation of Spiritual Beliefs in Contemporary China) Page 92

Nanlai Cao

Shih Chuan-kang, Quest for Harmony: The Moso Traditions of Sexual Union and Family Life Page 93

Stéphane Gros

Louise Edwards, Elaine Jeffreys (eds.), Celebrity in China Page 94

Hai Ren

Yingjin Zhang, Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China Page 95

Judith Pernin

Anny Lazarus and Laurent Septier, Art contemporain. Pékin en 11 parcours (Contemporary art in Beijing through 11 trips) Page 97

Emmanuel Lincot



























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