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Seminar: Revisiting the Chinese Discourse on Chinese Cultural Nationalism of the 1990s
Date: 23 November 2011 

School of Modern Languages and Cultures has the pleasure of inviting you to the following seminar:

Revisiting the Chinese Discourse on Chinese Cultural Nationalism of the 1990s

Professor Edmund Fung
University of Western Sydney

Date: 23 November 2011 (Wed)
Venue: KK 813, K.K.Leung Building, HKU
Time: 4:30-6:00 pm
Language: English

This paper departs from previous Western scholarship on China’s ‘new nationalism’ of the 1990s, which has paid much attention to state nationalism, international politics, and foreign and defence policy-making, and from the nation/state, tradition/modernity, and cultural nationalism/political nationalism dichotomies in earlier works to provide a nuanced understanding and multilayered analysis of Chinese cultural nationalism of the 1990s and beyond. The paper argues that what began as an intellectual critique of the ‘culture craze’ of the 1980s develops into a positive response to the challenges of modernity and globalization that is significantly linked to the rise of China and to the ‘China threat’ and ‘containing China’ theories propagated in the West. The intellectual pluralism of the 1990s and beyond underscores visions of a nation that is in competition with the West led by the United States in the new world order. The article further argues that cultural and political nationalisms, nation and state, rather than opposing each other, converge at particular points. Even as the CCP regime’s narrative of the nation is contested, cultural nationalists are capable of supporting it and help to strengthen the conservative, political mainstream. None would seek a revival of traditional authoritarianism, though. Instead, they see a positive relationship of cultural nationalism to political reform. In return, the regime accommodates their views, acknowledging their ‘patriotism’ and deploying culture as an important part of China’s ‘comprehensive competitiveness.’ The culture–politics nexus in contemporary China is more complicated and more nuanced than is previously thought.

Edmund Fung is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Western Sydney. He is the author of The Intellectual Foundations of Chinese Modernity: Cultural and Political Thought in the Republican Era (Cambridge University Press, 2010), In Search of Chinese Democracy: Civil Opposition in Nationalist China 1929–1949 (Cambridge University Press, 2000), The Diplomacy of Imperial Retreat: Britain’s South China Policy, 1924–1931 (Oxford University Press, 1991), and The Military Dimension of the Chinese Revolution: The Role of the New Army in the Revolution of 1911 (Australian National University Press, 1980). He is currently working on the cultural and political thought of post-1980s China.

Please contact Dr. Adelyn Lim ( or Ms Christy Ho ( should there be any questions.

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