The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China explores how an important group of Chinese performing artists invested in politics and the pursuit of the avant-garde came to terms with different ways of being “popular” in modern times. In particular, playwright and activist Tian Han (1898-1968) exemplified the instability of conventional delineations between the avant-garde, popular culture, and political propaganda. Liang Luo traces Tian’s trajectory through key moments in the evolution of twentieth-century Chinese national culture, from the Christian socialist cosmopolitanism of post–WWI Tokyo to the urban modernism of Shanghai in 1920s and 30s, then into the Chinese hinterland during the late 1930s and 40s, and finally to the Communist Beijing of the 1950s, revealing the dynamic interplay of art and politics throughout this period. Understanding Tian in his time sheds light upon a new generation of contemporary Chinese avant-gardists (Ai Wei Wei being the best known), who, half a century later, are similarly engaging national politics and popular culture.
In Diaspora’s Homeland Shelly Chan provides a broad historical study of how the mass migration of more than twenty million Chinese overseas influenced China’s politics, economics, and culture. Chan develops the concept of “diaspora moments”—a series of recurring disjunctions in which migrant temporalities come into tension with local, national, and global ones—to map the multiple historical geographies in which the Chinese homeland and diaspora emerge. Chan describes several distinct moments, including the lifting of the Qing emigration ban in 1893, intellectual debates in the 1920s and 1930s about whether Chinese emigration constituted colonization and whether Confucianism should be the basis for a modern Chinese identity, as well as the intersection of gender, returns, and Communist campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s. Adopting a transnational frame, Chan narrates Chinese history through a reconceptualization of diaspora to show how mass migration helped establish China as a nation-state within a global system.
In early twentieth-century China, age-old traditions of homosocial and homoerotic relationships between women suddenly became an issue of widespread public concern. Discussed formerly in terms of friendship and sisterhood, these relationships came to be associated with feminism, on the one hand, and psychobiological perversion, on the other—a radical shift whose origins have long been unclear.
In this first ever book-length study of Chinese lesbians, Tze-lan D. Sang convincingly ties the debate over female same-sex love in China to the emergence of Chinese modernity. As women's participation in social, economic, and political affairs grew, Sang argues, so too did the societal significance of their romantic and sexual relations. Focusing especially on literature by or about women-preferring women, Sang traces the history of female same-sex relations in China from the late imperial period (1600-1911) through the Republican era (1912-1949). She ends by examining the reemergence of public debate on lesbians in China after Mao and in Taiwan after martial law, including the important roles played by globalization and identity politics.
Through the lens of modern Chinese literature, Gender Politics in Modern China explores the relationship between gender and modernity, notions of the feminine and masculine, and shifting arguments for gender equality in China. Ranging from interviews with contemporary writers, to historical accounts of gendered writing in Taiwan and semi-colonial China, to close feminist readings of individual authors, these essays confront the degree to which textual stategies construct notions of gender. Among the specific themes discussed are: how femininity is produced in texts by allocating women to domestic space; the extent to which textual production lies at the base of a changing, historically specific code of the feminine; the extent to which women in modern Chinese societies are products of literary canons; the ways in which the historical processes of gendering have operated in Chinese modernity vis à vis modernity in the West; the representation of feminists as avengers and as westernized women; and the meager recognition of feminism as a serious intellectual current and a large body of theory. Originally published as a special issue of Modern Chinese Literature (Spring & Fall 1988), this expanded book represents some of the most compelling new work in post-Mao feminist scholarship and will appeal to all those concerned with understanding a revitalized feminism in the Chinese context.
Contributors. Carolyn Brown, Ching-kiu Stephen Chan, Sung-sheng Yvonne Chang, Yu-shih Chen, Rey Chow, Randy Kaplan, Richard King, Wolfgang Kubin, Wendy Larson, Lydia Liu, Seung-Yeun Daisy Ng, Jon Solomon, Meng Yue, Wang Zheng
Throughout most of history, in China the insane were kept within the home and treated by healers who claimed no specialized knowledge of their condition. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, psychiatric ideas and institutions began to influence longstanding beliefs about the proper treatment for the mentally ill. In The Invention of Madness, Emily Baum traces a genealogy of insanity from the turn of the century to the onset of war with Japan in 1937, revealing the complex and convoluted ways in which “madness” was transformed in the Chinese imagination into “mental illness.”
Focusing on typically marginalized historical actors, including municipal functionaries and the urban poor, The Invention of Madness shifts our attention from the elite desire for modern medical care to the ways in which psychiatric discourses were implemented and redeployed in the midst of everyday life. New meanings and practices of madness, Baum argues, were not just imposed on the Beijing public but continuously invented by a range of people in ways that reflected their own needs and interests. Exhaustively researched and theoretically informed, The Invention of Madness is an innovative contribution to medical history, urban studies, and the social history of twentieth-century China.
When, how, and why did the state enterprise system of modern China take shape? The conventional argument is that China borrowed its economic system and development strategy wholesale from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. In an important new interpretation, Bian shows instead that the basic institutional arrangement of state-owned enterprise--bureaucratic governance, management and incentive mechanisms, and the provision of social services and welfare--developed in China during the war years 1937-1945.
The Chinese ideogram chi is far richer in connotation than the equivalent English verb “to eat.” Chi can also be read as “the mouth that begs for food and words.” A concept manifest in the twentieth-century Chinese political reality of revolution and massacre, chi suggests a narrative of desire that moves from lack to satiation and back again. In China such fundamental acts as eating or refusing to eat can carry enormous symbolic weight. This book examines the twentieth-century Chinese political experience as it is represented in literature through hunger, cooking, eating, and cannibalizing. At the core of Gang Yue’s argument lies the premise that the discourse surrounding the most universal of basic human acts—eating—is a culturally specific one. Yue’s discussion begins with a brief look at ancient Chinese alimentary writing and then moves on to its main concern: the exploration and textual analysis of themes of eating in modern Chinese literature from the May Fourth period through the post-Tiananmen era. The broad historical scope of this volume illustrates how widely applicable eating-related metaphors can be. For instance, Yue shows how cannibalism symbolizes old China under European colonization in the writing of Lu Xun. In Mo Yan’s 1992 novel Liquorland, however, cannibalism becomes the symbol of overindulgent consumerism. Yue considers other writers as well, such as Shen Congwen, Wang Ruowang, Lu Wenfu, Zhang Zianliang, Ah Cheng, Zheng Yi, and Liu Zhenyun. A special section devoted to women writers includes a chapter on Xiao Hong, Wang Anyi, and Li Ang, and another on the Chinese-American women writers Jade Snow Wong, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Amy Tan. Throughout, the author compares and contrasts the work of these writers with similarly themed Western literature, weaving a personal and political semiotics of eating. The Mouth That Begs will interest sinologists, literary critics, anthropologists, cultural studies scholars, and everyone curious about the semiotics of food.
In National Past-Times, Ann Anagnost explores the fashioning and refashioning of modern Chinese subjectivity as it relates to the literal and figurative body of the nation. In essays revealing the particular temporality of the modern Chinese nation-state, Anagnost examines the disparate eras of its recent past and its propensity for continually looking backward in order to face the future. Using interviews and participant observation as well as close readings of official documents, propaganda materials, and popular media, Anagnost notes the discontinuities in the nation’s narrative—moments where this narrative has been radically reorganized at critical junctures in China’s modern history. Covering a broad range of issues relating to representation and power—issues that have presented themselves with particular clarity in the years since the violent crackdown on the student movement of 1989—National Past-Times critiques the ambiguous possibilities produced by the market, as well as new opportunities for "unfreedom" in the discipline of labor and the commodification of women. Anagnost begins with a retrospective reflection on the practice of "speaking bitterness" in socialist revolutionary practice. Subsequent essays discuss the culture debates of the 1980s, the discourse of social disorder, the issue of population control, the film The Story of Qiu Ju, and anomalies at the theme park "Splendid China."
Featuring over 140 Chinese and non-Chinese contributors, this landmark volume, edited by David Der-wei Wang, explores unconventional forms as well as traditional genres, emphasizes Chinese authors’ influence on foreign writers as well as China’s receptivity to outside literary influences, and offers vibrant contrasting voices and points of view.
This collection of essays addresses the perception that our understanding of modern China will be enhanced by opening the literature of China to more rigorous theoretical and comparative study. In doing so, the book confronts the problematic and complex subject of China's literary, theoretical, and cultural responses to the experience of the modern. With chapters by writers, scholars, and critics from mainland China, Hong Kong, and the United States, this volume explores the complexity of representing modernity within the Chinese context. Addressing the problem of finding a proper language for articulating fundamental issues in the historical experience of twentieth-century China, the authors critically re-examine notions of realism, the self/subject, and modernity and draw on perspectives from feminist criticism, ideological analysis, and postmodern theory. Among the many topics explored are subjectivity in Chinese cultural theory, Chinese gender relations, the viability of a Lacanian approach to Chinese identity, the politics of subversion in Chinese reportage, and the ambivalent status of the icon of paternity since Mao. At the same time this book offers a probing look into the transformation that Chinese culture as well as the study of that culture is currently undergoing, it also reconfirms private discourse as an ideal site for an investigation into a real and imaginary, private and collective encounter with history.
Contributors. Liu Kang, Xiaobing Tang, Liu Zaifu, Stephen Chan, Lydia H. Liu, Wendy Larson, Theodore Huters, David Wang, Tonglin Lu, Yingjin Zhang, Yuejin Wang, Li Tuo, Leo Ou-fan Lee
Recent events—from strife in Tibet and the rapid growth of Christianity in China to the spectacular expansion of Chinese Buddhist organizations around the globe—vividly demonstrate that one cannot understand the modern Chinese world without attending closely to the question of religion. The Religious Question in Modern China highlights parallels and contrasts between historical events, political regimes, and cultural movements to explore how religion has challenged and responded to secular Chinese modernity, from 1898 to the present.
Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer piece together the puzzle of religion in China not by looking separately at different religions in different contexts, but by writing a unified story of how religion has shaped, and in turn been shaped by, modern Chinese society. From Chinese medicine and the martial arts to communal temple cults and revivalist redemptive societies, the authors demonstrate that from the nineteenth century onward, as the Chinese state shifted, the religious landscape consistently resurfaced in a bewildering variety of old and new forms. The Religious Question in Modern China integrates historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives in a comprehensive overview of China’s religious history that is certain to become an indispensible reference for specialists and students alike.
Prasenjit Duara offers the first systematic account of the relationship between the nation-state, nationalism, and the concept of linear history. Focusing primarily on China and including discussion of India, Duara argues that many historians of postcolonial nation-states have adopted a linear, evolutionary history of the Enlightenment/colonial model. As a result, they have written repressive, exclusionary, and incomplete accounts.
The backlash against such histories has resulted in a tendency to view the past as largely constructed, imagined, or invented. In this book, Duara offers a way out of the impasse between constructionism and the evolving nation; he redefines history as a series of multiple, often conflicting narratives produced simultaneously at national, local, and transnational levels. In a series of closely linked case studies, he considers such examples as the very different histories produced by Chinese nationalist reformers and partisans of popular religions, the conflicting narratives of statist nationalists and of advocates of federalism in early twentieth-century China. He demonstrates the necessity of incorporating contestation, appropriation, repression, and the return of the repressed subject into any account of the past that will be meaningful to the present. Duara demonstrates how to write histories that resist being pressed into the service of the national subject in its progress—or stalled progress—toward modernity.
In Revisiting Women’s Cinema, Lingzhen Wang ponders the roots of contemporary feminist stagnation and the limits of both commercial mainstream and elite minor cultures by turning to socialist women filmmakers in modern China. She foregrounds their sociopolitical engagements, critical interventions, and popular artistic experiments, offering a new conception of socialist and postsocialist feminisms, mainstream culture, and women’s cinema. Wang highlights the films of Wang Ping and Dong Kena in the 1950s and 1960s and Zhang Nuanxin and Huang Shuqin in the 1980s and 1990s to unveil how they have been profoundly misread through extant research paradigms entrenched in Western Cold War ideology, post-second-wave cultural feminism, and post-Mao intellectual discourses. Challenging received interpretations, she elucidates how socialist feminism and culture were conceptualized and practiced in relation to China’s search not only for national independence and economic development but also for social emancipation, proletarian culture, and socialist internationalism. Wang calls for a critical reevaluation of historical materialism, socialist feminism, and popular culture to forge an integrated emancipatory vision for future transnational feminist and cultural practices.
In the period between the 1920s and 1940s, a genre emerged in Chinese literature that would reveal crucial contradictions in Chinese culture that still exist today. At a time of intense political conflict, Chinese women began to write autobiography, a genre that focused on personal identity and self-exploration rather than the national, collective identity that the country was championing.
When “I” Was Born: Women’s Autobiography in Modern China reclaims the voices of these particular writers, voices that have been misinterpreted and overlooked for decades. Tracing women writers as they move from autobiographical fiction, often self-revelatory and personal, to explicit autobiographies that focused on women’s roles in public life, Jing M. Wang reveals the factors that propelled this literary movement, the roles that liberal translators and their renditions of Western life stories played, and the way in which these women writers redefined writing and gender in the stories they told. But Wang reveals another story as well: the evolving history and identity of women in modern Chinese society. When “I” Was Born adds to a growing body of important work in Chinese history and culture, women’s studies, and autobiography in a global context.
Writers discussed include Xie Bingying, Zhang Ailing, Yu Yinzi, Fei Pu, Lu Meiyen, Feng Heyi, Ye Qian, Bai Wei, Shi Wen, Fan Xiulin, Su Xuelin, and Lu Yin.