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Critical Zone 2

Critical Zone 2: A Forum of Chinese and Western Knowledge

Q. S. Tong
Wang Shouren
Douglas Kerr
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Critical Zone 2
    Book Description:

    Despite globalizing forces, whether economic, political, or cultural, there remain conspicuous differences that divide 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 in cultural and literary studies that is concerned with current critical debates and intellectual preoccupations in the humanities. The series aims to improve understanding across cultures, traditions, discourses, and disciplines, and to produce international critical knowledge. Critical Zone is an expression of timely collaboration among scholars from Hong Kong, mainland China, the United States, and Europe, and conceived as an intellectual bridge between China and the rest of the world. The second volume of Critical Zone, as does its predecessor, consists of two parts. The first part includes original essays that deal with the concept and practice of "empire," as a collective response to the question of how imperial formations and operations, in the past and at present, should be examined in a larger context of international politics and how historical imperialism may be considered in relation to the conditions of our time. Part II includes two sets of translations of essays, first published in Chinese, about two recent debates in China: one on the canonicity of Lu Xun and the other on the problem of how to reform Peking University in the context of globalization. These two groups of translations are led by review essays that contextualize the debates.

    eISBN: 978-988-8180-85-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Q. S. Tong, Wang Shouren and Douglas Kerr

    It’s appropriate for Critical Zone to consider the concept and practice of “empire,” and not just because the experience of historical imperialism has some special bearing on the regional formations in this part of the world. Critical Zone, as described in our introduction to the inaugural volume, is a publication project that takes its local situatedness as a starting point and a geo-cultural basis from which to engage with issues that critical intellectuals located elsewhere are also concerned with.¹ What has made empire a topic of special interest for us is the question of how imperial formations and operations, whether...

  4. Part I Empire

    • Who Killed Alden Pyle? The Oversight of Oversight in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American
      (pp. 11-46)
      William Spanos

      Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, published in 1955, is a novel whose mise en scène is the Indochina of the period between 1946, when, in the aftermath of the withdrawal of the Japanese at the end of World War II, the French colonial army was fighting the Viet Minh to regain France’s authority over its former colony, and 1954, immediately before the decisive defeat of the French by the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu (7 May 1954). This was the period when the United States, locked into the Cold War scenario (specifically, the domino theory), which, from its panoptic...

    • Citing and Situating America’s Democratic Jargon: China Passes Through Detroit in 1942
      (pp. 47-82)
      Kathryne Lindberg

      To the Black Panthers and other revolutionary black nationalists and internationalists in the 1960s or “the post-Bandung Era,” The Quotations of Chairman Mao promised a radical — but hardly a radically new — transformation by which the people of the world would overcome capitalism, American imperialism, and the racism that subtends these. Mao Tse-tung’s (Mao Zedong’s) quotations, especially those from the exuberant Yan’an period, spoke the slogans that moved masses and provided a political education in the successful revolutionary struggles of Third World Marxism. However, the writings of Mao and the available writings and lore of Bandung sounded quite familiar to an...

    • Writing and Speech in Western Views of the Chinese Language
      (pp. 83-106)
      Christopher Hutton

      “Empire” implies a gulf between the governing and the governed. From our modern postcolonial vantage point, political authority wielded by a racially, linguistically, or culturally distinct ruling class is now viewed as irremediably inauthentic and oppressive. The term “empire,” which encompasses both premodern feudal or dynastic polities and European colonial empires, thus connotes the inscrutability of alien authority and the coercive manipulation of ritual and symbols, including language. In the modern era, anti-feudal and anticolonial nationalism were frequently grounded in a politics of language in which the language of everyday, private, vernacular experience was projected as the basis for a...

    • Imperial Globalization and Colonial Transactions: “African Lugard” and the University of Hong Kong
      (pp. 107-146)
      Elaine Y. L. Ho

      In his novel, Anthills of the Savannah (1984), Chinua Ache be anatomizes the culture of misrule in the fictional post-colonial nation of Kangan. There is a reference in the novel to Lord Lugard College where the three male protagonists, the leaders of Kangan, were educated, and through this reference, the novel identifies colonial education as a source of malaise in the new nation state.¹ Established by the British, Kangan’s former colonial masters, the college is the training ground of the indigenous élite and institutionalized many of the inequities under colonialism which its graduates, confident in their own privilege, cannot perceive...

    • Empires, Gardens, Collections: How Each Explains the Others
      (pp. 147-166)
      Haun Saussy

      Adam and Eve, we hear, lived briefly in a paradise before being compelled to go forth and suffer through work and childbirth. Paradeisos: the word used in the Greek translations of the Book of Genesis encodes the memory of an older Eastern empire. In Persian, a pairidaeza was an enclosed garden, most notably the king’s garden, a sheltered, well-watered space where the rare plants of the four quarters were collected and tended.¹ What if, rather than a fresh space created together with the beginning world, Adam and Eve lived (as the Greek lexicon of their adventures does) in the ruins...

    • The Idea of China in New Text Confucianism, 1780–1911
      (pp. 167-178)
      Wang Hui

      In the study of Chinese history, historians often face the following questions: What is China’s “modernity”? How did it arise? What were its characteristics and driving forces? The most influential answers to these questions could be divided into two kinds. First, in the 1920s–30s, Naito Konan and Miyazaki Ichisada argued that early modernity in Chinese history occurred in the tenth century. Their main reasons were: the Song Dynasty as a proto-nation-state, advanced long-distance trade, the collapse of the aristocracy, the system of civil service examination, and the administrative system. Second, both the Marxist school and Fairbank’s model of so-called...

  5. Part II Reviews and Translations

    • Debate on Lu Xun

      • Reloading the Canon: The Fin-de-Siècle Controversies over Lu Xun
        (pp. 181-192)
        Lin Qingxin

        An iconoclastic figure in both literary form and cultural stance, Lu Xun is widely believed to represent the apex of modern Chinese literature and has been compared to Dante in literary status.¹ The critic Li Zehou says Lu Xun had greater wisdom and longer lasting influence than Hu Shi and Chen Duxiu, two other May Fourth intellectuals: “Lu Xun was an enlightener, but he went beyond the boundaries of enlightenment, which endowed his enlightenment project with more strength; passion and wisdom than Chen’s and Hu’s.”² Whereas works by Chen Duxiu and Hu Shi are largely outdated today, Li concludes, Lu...

      • Lu Xun as I See Him
        (pp. 193-202)
        Wang Shuo

        My first encounter with Lu Xun’s name was in a riddle: “My name sounds like ‘news from Shandong’;¹ who am I?” I forget where the riddle was published; anyway, it was in print among a whole bunch of other riddles for children.

        When I was about eight or nine, a teenage bibliophile in the neighborhood bragged to us: “There’s Lu Xun. What a great hero he was!” Talking about the hero, his face lit up. “One day Lu Xun was walking in a dark alley when a crowd of dogs barked at him. He shouted, ‘Bah! You snobbish dogs!’” We...

      • Lu Xun’s Achievements and “Weaknesses”
        (pp. 203-208)
        Feng Jicai

        Even a cursory survey of twentieth-century Chinese literature will reveal this miracle: Lu Xun, the least prolific of all the fiction writers, was nevertheless the most influential. He did not share the fear of writers today that, unless they produce voluminous works, they will not be worthy of the title, “great writer.” Indeed, Lu Xun was never seduced by mere quantity, and he stands alone at the apex of modern Chinese fiction with no more than a medium-sized collection of short stories and novellas. What is more, he achieved this without the benefits of television appearances or marketing. What, then,...

      • Lu Xun and Orientalism
        (pp. 209-216)
        Zhang Quanzhi

        First of all, I must acknowledge that I am indebted to Feng Jicai for the topic of this paper. In his essay “Lu Xun de gong yu ‘guo’” (Lu Xun’s achievements and “weaknesses”), Feng points out that “Lu Xun’s critique of national character originated from the Western missionaries of the 1840s. ... His own perspective on the Chinese people benefited from an outsider’s view.” He adds that, while his work was not “a literary reproduction of the Western conception of the East,” his “well-wrought fiction unconsciously covers up all trace of the Eurocentrism embedded in the discourse on national characteristics....

      • Thoughts Provoked by the Shouhuo Essays: My View on the Hot Spots in Current Lu Xun Studies
        (pp. 217-226)
        Chen Shuyu

        In the minds of Lun Xun scholars, as well as his audience, the canonical status of his works has been unshakable for ages. Indeed, some of them are relieved to think that, since Lu Xun’s writings are part of the literary canon, there is no need to defend them.

        What is a canon? I understand the literary canon to be that part of literature that readers retain in their memory for a long time; in other words, literature as cultural memory. It is the literature that sets the literary standard for many generations to come, but consists of only a...

      • Some Unavoidable Questions in Lu Xun Studies
        (pp. 227-228)
        Xie Yong

        There are myriad studies on Lu Xun, but how many of them still appeal to people nowadays? How many of them shed light on current issues? Among the mass of research literature on Lu Xun, little illuminates today’s concerns. Lin Xianzhi’s Renjian Lu Xun (Lu Xun in the human world) is the exception. It would be incorrect to say that past biographers of Lu Xun had no affection for him but, unlike Lin Xianzhi, very few of them saw him as a spiritual symbol of the nation, before they began probing into his inner world. Lin’s book represents not only...

      • How Was Lu Xun Appropriated?
        (pp. 229-234)
        Lin Xianzhi

        In a review of my book Renjian Lu Xun (Lu Xun in the human world) published in Zhongguo wenhua bao (Chinese culture weekly) and Lingnan wenhua shibao (Lingnan culture weekly), Xie Yong raises a question which he considers a mystery in Lu Xun studies: “Why on earth should Lu Xun, who had fought against autocracy and totalitarianism all his life, be appropriated by a despotic regime in the end?”¹

        The appropriation of Lu Xun is primarily a political issue having little to do with the study of Lu Xun’s thought. The questions we need to clarify are: Under what circumstances...

      • My View on the Appropriation of Lu Xun
        (pp. 235-242)
        Cao Zhenhua

        The so-called appropriation of Lu Xun is anything but new, for there were many discussions on the issue back in Lu Xun’s lifetime. Xie Yong’s “many difficulties and questions” provoked by Lin Xianzhi’s Renjian Lu Xun (Lu Xun in the human world), as well as Lin Xianzhi’s response to his article, are about the same old question, except that an extra dimension is added: the appropriation of Lu Xun by a despotic regime.¹

        In Xie Yong’s view, Lin Xianzhi’s depiction of Lu Xun as the most resolute and courageous fighter against autocracy and totalitarianism marks “a new perspective which brings...

    • Peking University Reform

      • The Balance of Power in a Leading Comprehensive Research University in China
        (pp. 245-260)
        Cheng Zhaoxiang

        In the past two years, there has been a lot of controversy over university “reform.”¹ Yet there is really no need for major reform unless the university is a stagnant community. If a university has a tradition that is still alive, this tradition itself will always call for changes: tradition and innovation complement rather than oppose each other. So, the question is not whether there should be changes, but what changes there should be and how these changes should be effected.

        On 23 May 2003, Peking University released a document entitled “Peking University Reform Program for the Institution of Faculty...

      • The Idea of the Chinese University and Peking University Reform
        (pp. 261-268)
        Gan Yang

        The current discussion about reform at Peking University and other universities in mainland China cannot avoid raising, once again, the question of “the idea of the Chinese university.” The reason is that it has a direct impact on the direction and aims of the reform. In this respect, reviews of, and reflections upon, Hong Kong’s higher education by Hong Kong academics since the year 2000 provide much food for thought. While those reviews and reflections focus on the merits and demerits of higher education in Hong Kong, they have general implications for all universities in the Chinese community. The article...

      • Gan Yang and Cultural Nationalism
        (pp. 269-276)
        Xue Yong

        Gan Yang’s article, “The Idea of the Chinese University and Peking University Reform,” has two parts.¹ One presents a specific criticism of Peking University’s reform proposal and his own ideas about the development of higher education in China. The other is an expression of cultural nationalism. The first part is presented directly, and the second indirectly. The latter as a cultural movement is, however, more dangerous at present. For the sake of convenience, I give my view of his criticism in the first part of the article before moving on to discuss the less explicit, yet probably more substantial, part...

      • University Reform and Academic Tradition: The Question of Academic Autonomy and Modern Chinese Universities
        (pp. 277-286)
        Li Meng

        Since Peking University put forward the “Draft Plan for the Reform of the Personnel System at Peking University” in late May 2003, discussion of the personnel reform quickly spread beyond the campus. Scholars concerned about Peking University and education in China in general expressed views about aspects of the draft plan, the logic and idea behind the proposed personnel system; they also used the opportunity to examine many key questions concerning the development of China’s education and scholarship. Why should such a plan for reform of the personnel system in a university have become an issue of such controversy among...

      • Cultural Nationalism, “a Sense of Frustration” and the Spiritual Mission of Chinese Intellectuals: A Rebuttal of Xue Yong’s “Gan Yang and Cultural Nationalism”
        (pp. 287-298)
        Zhang Xudong

        The heated debate on the reform at Peking University has received wide coverage in various media for some time. Whatever the controversy is about, it seems to stop short of common or tacit understanding. In fact, this debate from the very beginning has involved two related but essentially different levels: one specifically concerns such material matter as the system of the employment, evaluation, promotion, and dismissal of lecturers and associate professors at Peking University; the other contemplates such metaphysical concepts as the future of Chinese scholarship and the self-positioning and moral character of the Chinese university. Although the system at...

      • The World-Class University and Localization
        (pp. 299-304)
        Zhang Weiying

        Zhao Xiao: What is your view on some people’s dismissive attitude toward the present proposal to build world-class universities?

        Zhang Weiying: From the perspective of management, all organizational reforms require a progressive aim that is easily memorable for all. Considered from that perspective, I think the thinking behind building world-class universities and the way the proposal is put forward are very progressive!

        Why should we build world-class universities? The reason is that there are no national boundaries with regard to knowledge production and scientific invention. If your work does not reach international standards, you should not have done it in...

  6. Contributors
    (pp. 305-307)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 308-308)