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Critical Zone 1

Critical Zone 1: A Forum of Chinese and Western Knowledge

Q. S. Tong
Wang Shouren
Douglas Kerr
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Critical Zone 1
    Book Description:

    Amid the globalizing forces, whether economic, political, or cultural, there remain conspicuous differences and divergences that divide and antagonize scholarly communities. How should we understand and respond to those discursive gaps among different traditions and systems of knowledge production? Critical Zone is a book series that is envisaged as a forum where communities of critical scholarship can come together to share ideas and participate in the debates that preoccupy the humanities today. The series aims to improve understanding across cultures, traditions, discourses, and disciplines and to produce international critical knowledge. Critical Zone is an expression and an embodiment of timely collaboration among scholars in Hong Kong, mainland China, the United States and Europe and is conceived as an intellectual bridge between China and the rest of the world. Each volume in the series has two sections. The first section contains original articles on a set of related topics by scholars from around the world; the second section includes review essays highlighting one or two issues in regional critical scholarship and translations that reflect intellectual trends and concerns in the region, in particular in China.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-092-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Difference and Convergence in Globalization
    (pp. 1-18)
    Q. S. Tong and Douglas Kerr

    It is customary nowadays to accept that a cross-national and cross-regional production of knowledge and the integration of academic communities are no longer just an idea or a desire, but a given and an experience. In the process of globalization, it is often claimed and believed that academics in the humanities are empowered by a new set of international conditions of possibility in critical articulation and intellectual engagement. Over the past two decades or so, there has been a gathering global awareness of the need to develop a more open worldview, and to engage more actively and productively with ideas...

  5. Part I Knowledge, Institutionalization, and Globalization

    • What’s Real?
      (pp. 21-36)
      Catherine Belsey

      I can date very precisely the moment in 1985 when I first recognised the specificity of the postmodern. My sympathies were fully enlisted by Cecilia, the downtrodden wife at the centre of Woody Allen’s film The Purple Rose of Cairo. I was relishing her pleasure in the black and white adventure story showing at her local picture house, when to my astonishment and delight, as well as to hers, Tom Baxter, the romantic lead in the movie she was watching, spoke directly to Cecilia and then came down off the screen to join her in the audience.

      Much of the...

    • Some Notes on a Critique of Culture
      (pp. 37-48)
      Ronald A. T. Judy

      It is noteworthy that in tandem with the constitution and integration of more and more “regions” into the global economy — much of Africa, Central Asia, and sections of Southwest Asia remaining exceptions — there is increased attention being paid to the old idea of the university as conservator and purveyor of culture. An instructive example of this is the Europa-Universität Viadrina, “European University Viadrina,” at Frankfurt (Oder). Of the three new universities established in the federal state of Brandenburg — the other two being the universities of Potsdam and Cottbus, Viadrina is the only one charged with the task...

    • Race Theory on Trial Under National Socialism: The Case of Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss
      (pp. 49-60)
      Christopher Hutton

      For the (ideal) scientist, the language of science has maximal autonomy in respect of the object of investigation and in relation to external socio-political forces. This ideal language of science is also autonomous in relation to its utterer, the scientist. The value of what is said, its truth, is independent of who is speaking. An alternative picture of science sees the form of the academic, scientific, or clinical institution, its particular institutional shaping of knowledge, and the socio-scientific roles that it allocates, in particular the language that circulates within it, as constituting a mode of seeing. Scientific discourse, to the...

    • English Studies and Global Ethics: Universalism and the Idioms of Experience
      (pp. 61-68)
      Eric Clarke

      What follows are some tentative reflections on some problems shared by English studies and an emerging notion of “global ethics.” These shared problems concern the relationship between culture and experience as this relationship is imagined under the conflicted sign of “universality.” While these reflections stem initially from an analogy (and all the limitations analogies bring with them), they also point to more productively transitive lines of thought about the problems of a universalism paradoxically burdened with representing experience.

      This representational burden forms the initial analogical basis for thinking of English studies and global ethics together. The study of literature that...

    • English and the Humanities in China
      (pp. 69-78)
      Wang Shouren and Zhao Wenshu

      It is perhaps beyond the imagination of many that an English lecture could be as popular as a pop song performance or a major football match, but it is true in China where the number of English learners exceeds the population of the United States. When Li Yang, the founder of the “Crazy English” program, came to Nanjing, according to the local newspaper, he rented the biggest stadium in town and attracted around 8,000 English learners to his lecture. Indeed, English is going crazy in China. Ever since Beijing’s successful bidding for the 2008 Olympic Games, especially since China’s entry...

    • Why Should the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Continue to Exist?
      (pp. 79-86)
      Liu Dong

      The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is possibly the biggest research institution in the world and certainly the most prestigious on the Mainland, specializing not only in social science, with particular reference to Chinese society, but also the humanities. As such, it should, indeed it must engage in a scrupulous study of its own research philosophy and purpose. Such self-examination will not only reveal the minutiae of its historical development but also, in the process, shed light on the specifically Chinese method of research. It will also serve to clarify some current misconceptions and, more fundamentally, help explain the reason...

    • The Chinese Government’s Policy on Private Higher Education: 1982-2000
      (pp. 87-104)
      Zhang Boshu and Wang Guilan

      Private higher education in China first emerged in the 1930s, and it flourished until 1949 when it was suspended for political and ideological reasons. In fact, it took the death of Mao Zedong, the exposure of the bankruptcy of Utopian social reform and the beginning of the open-door policy to breathe new life into privately funded education. According to Ministry of Education statistics, at the end of 1999 there were 1,260 private higher education institutions that were non-degree- granting and run by non-governmental bodies. The enrollment at these institutions was about 1,200,000 — approximately one quarter of the total enrollment...

    • Reading the West: Notes on Recent Chinese Critiques of Western Discourses
      (pp. 105-116)
      Jiang Ningkang

      There is no denying that most Chinese intellectuals now enjoy more academic freedom than before, as the market economy has considerably alleviated the tension between state and society. In academic circles, however, this development has generated not only a sense of autonomy but also the fear of being marginalized by rapid commercialization and fierce social competition. Many Chinese intellectuals and critics have thus remained preoccupied with relocating their position in society, a relocation that has given rise to “mixed feelings of liberation and anxiety,” as Bonnie S. McDougall observed.¹ This kind of anxiety is particularly manifest in some critics’ aspiration...

  6. Part II Reviews and Translations

    • The “Linguistic Turn” in 1990s China and Globalization
      (pp. 119-138)
      Chen Jianhua

      It is impossible to review how the use of language changed in 1990s China, a subject worthy of several books. China had made herself a new grand narrative of change in that decade; it seems that any aspect of the change is describable, except the change of narrative that had described itself. Rather than a full survey, however, this essay features some texts, authors, moments, and discourses in the fields of the humanities linked to the printing sphere; whether about the issue of ordinary language, classical language, or poetic language, they all inevitably engage the yuyan zhuanxiang (linguistic turn) which...

    • Research Methods and Chinese Humanities at the Turn of the Century
      (pp. 139-148)
      Zhu Shoutong

      Twentieth-century humanities scholarship in China was marked and marred by unsettling debates over all the despotic “-isms” that held sway. Serious engagement with the Western concepts and “-isms,” however, failed to lead Chinese scholars into the international arena, because they were in the intellectual shadow of the West and showed little originality and self-confidence. It took time for scholars to fully come to terms with the gap between China and the West in the production of scholarship in the humanities. Only then, as if waking from a bad dream, did they retreat from controversial concepts and “-isms” and turn their...

    • Editors’ Note
      (pp. 149-152)

      In the following pages, we present the work of J. Hillis Miller, Qian Zhongwen, Wang Yichuan, and Wan Junren. The four articles included in this cluster, though quite different in perspective as well as in position, discuss the cultural and literary consequences of globalization, a topic that has been drawing much critical attention in mainland China. We reprint these articles (all of which, except J. Hillis Miller’s, have been translated from Chinese and shortened) in this volume, believing that they will inform our readers of what is going on in Chinese critical circles and give them a glimpse of how...

    • Will Literary Study Survive the Globalization of the University and the New Regime of Telecommunications?
      (pp. 153-164)
      J. Hillis Miller

      Jacques Derrida, in a striking passage written by one or another of the protagonists of La carte postale (The post card), says the following:

      an entire epoch of so-called literature, if not all of it, cannot survive a certain technological regime of telecommunications (in this respect the political regime is secondary). Neither can philosophy, or psychoanalysis. Or love letters.

      Refound here the American student with whom we had coffee last Saturday, the one who was looking for a thesis subject (comparative literature). I suggested to her something on the telephone in the literature of the 20th century (and beyond), starting...

    • The Future of Literary Theory in the Context of Globalization (Excerpts)
      (pp. 165-172)
      Qian Zhongwen

      I once pointed out that in the context of globalization, the development of literary theory in China and the West, when viewed from the twentieth-century vantage point, had diverged twice. Before the 1980s, mainstream Western literary theory foregrounded the intrinsic approach to the study of literature, whereas, in our country, extrinsic study had been carried to the extreme, the consequence being that both had gone into culs-de-sac, leaving no room for further development. Since the 1980s, when the effects of globalization began to be felt, Western literary theory has on the whole shifted its focus from intrinsic study to extrinsic...

    • Chinese Literature in the Milieu of “Globality” (Excerpts)
      (pp. 173-178)
      Wang Yichuan

      China’s economy is an active participant in the process of “globalization” (e.g., China’s accession to the WTO) that characterizes the world economy. But our culture adopts a basic attitude of opening to, communicating with, and learning from other nations on the one hand, while on the other endeavouring to maintain and uphold its own unique character. In other words, while the economies of the world are seeking some sort of unification, cultures in the world tend to be conserved, cultivated, and unique. Although the unification of world economies appears possible, the unification of different cultures into one world culture is...

    • Economic Globalization and Cultural Pluralism (Excerpts)
      (pp. 179-186)
      Wan Junren

      In its modern context, “globalization” is innately related to the concept of modernity and has become a force with an infinite capacity for growth and development. Since it entails an inalienable sense of modernity and is endowed with an increasingly more urgent expectation of the values expressed by the moderns’ teleology, it is even becoming, in a sense, the keyword for expressing the value a n d teleology of modernity. It therefore not only possesses the increasingly universalized power to describe “facts” and to interpret economic affairs but also enjoys a cross-cultural discursive right that transcends economy, which is the...

    • Chinese Studies: A Changing Field of Contention — A Debate on Wu Hung’s Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (Excerpts)
      (pp. 187-198)
      Li Ling

      In this article, “Chinese Studies: A Changing Field of Contention — A Debate on Wu Hung’s Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture,” Li Ling uses the debate on Wu Hung’s Monumentality as a point of entry into the field of discursive differences between traditional Chinese historiography and its counterpart in the West, in particular in the US. In recapitulating the debate over Wu Hung’s work, Li intends to “acquaint Chinese scholars not only with the debate itself but with the protocols of criticism and academic standards in the West.” In his summary of the main criticisms of the book...

    • “Re-evaluation of Modernity” and Modern Chinese Literature (Excerpts)
      (pp. 199-206)
      Li Yi

      The point of departure of Li Yi’s “‘Re-evaluation of Modernity’ and Modern Chinese Literature,” is familiar enough; it is yet another attempt to reassess “modernity” as a concept and a practice in relation to the development of modern Chinese literature. The article argues that the issue of historical and social specificities and rich details of modern Chinese literature have often been ignored in recent critical articulations about the notion of “modernity” in China and that it is important to understand the inadequacies of the notion of “modernity” when applied to the unique experience of such writers as Lu Xun and...

    • Historical Imaginaries of Asia
      (pp. 207-214)
      Wang Hui

      This piece by Wang Hui presents a brief outline of the historical imaginaries of Asia, with its focus of attention on the Japanese articulations on a Japan that is both within and outside Asia. The idea that Asia or East Asia was a separate and unique civilization that had Confucianism as its ethical and cultural mainstay must be considered in close relation to the rise of Japan as a regional power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the appropriation of the notion of a common Asia should be understood in the context of nationalist movements in Asia....

    • Foreign Settlements in Shanghai and Fusion of Different Cultures (Excerpts)
      (pp. 215-220)
      Xiong Yuezhi

      In “Foreign Settlements in Shanghai and Fusion of Different Cultures,” Xiong Yuezhi, a Shanghai-based historian, considers the importance of Western culture to the formation of modern Shanghai. The article examines the relationship between foreign settlements in Shanghai and the formation of its modernity in the second half of nineteenth century. In contrast to the established view that the foreign settlements were the product of Western colonial imperialist and colonialist practice, Xiong Yuezhi argues that their presence in Shanghai actually created a condition of possibility for the development of a modern society and culture and therefore played a significant role in...

  7. Afterword
    (pp. 221-228)
    Paul A. Bové

    Critical Zone is a symptom of the most important problem facing traditional politics — the relationship between China and the English-speaking world, which is to say, the relationship between the PRC and the USA. The editors of Critical Zone have taken excellent advantage of Hong Kong’s particular history as an open society and ex-colony of Britain importantly oriented to US economic and political action, to encourage the exchange and circulation of histories and ideas in a manner that runs parallel to processes in the diplomatic, political, and financial fields. It is of vital importance for the world that Chinese and...

  8. Contributors
    (pp. 229-234)