1st Edition

Intellectual Discourse in Reform Era China The Debate on the Spirit of the Humanities in the 1990s

By Giorgio Strafella Copyright 2017
    176 Pages
    by Routledge

    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores intellectual discourse in reform era China by analysing the so-called “debate on the spirit of the Humanities”, which occurred in the years 1993-95, and which is recognised by scholars as one of the most interesting, influential and important debates of the 1990s. This debate, in which Chinese intellectuals reflected on reform-era mass culture and on their role in society, was the first debate in China after the crackdown of 1989 and the launch of new economic reforms after Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 “southern tour”. The book, drawing on a large corpus of texts and a wide range of individual positions, demonstrates how Chinese intellectuals, having to face the combination of political repression and economic liberalisation, conceptualised and reacted to both. The book reveals the scale and complexity of the debate, the nature of intellectual life in China, the status and relevance of intellectual voices in society, the divisions within the intellectual sphere as well as shared concepts and ideals, and how the key factors of political repression and economic liberalisation which remain central in China today were defined and articulated.

    1. Introduction

    2. A State of Flux

    3. Change as Direction

    4. The Limits of Choice

    5. Choice as Place

    6. Spiritual Borders

    7. The West as a Resource



    Giorgio Strafella is a Research Fellow in the Department of Chinese Culture and Society at the University of St Gallen

    "Giorgio Strafella's Intellectual Discourse on Reform Era China is the first book-length study in China of a significant event among Chinese intellectuals in the 1990s: a debate that erupted on the spirit of the humanities in China [...] Strafella's keyword approach adds a fresh perspective to our understanding of the debate as well as the fairclough - an approach that is markedly English-language-based - brings a native Chinese speaker would not normally see. [...] Strafella's book is an admirable study that deserves further critical attention. "

    Haomin Gong, in The China Journal