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How modern was Chinese modernity? Exploring tensions of a contested master narrative

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journal contribution
posted on 15.05.2015 by Thoralf Klein
“Modernity” continues to be a useful historiographical tool, however, it is tension-laden both theoretically and empirically. Conceptually, “modernity” can denote either a quality (“modern-ness”) or a condition referring to a specific period in history. With regard to empirical research, the essay takes a look at the recent history of China, arguing that although there exists a line between what is modern and what is not (between modernity and its Other[s]), this often appears fuzzy when we look at concrete historical manifestations. Two case studies bear this out: The first looks at the possibility of locating a rural modernity, challenging conventional scholarship that has situated the modern almost exclusively in China’s cities. The second case study elucidates the relationship between “Chinese” and “global” modernity, striking a balance between universalistic and pluralistic understandings of modernity. In sum, the essay shows that it is essential to incorporate the paradoxes inherent in the modern condition into the analytical framework.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Politics and International Studies

Published in

International Journal of History, Culture and Modernity

Volume

2

Issue

3

Pages

275 - 301 (27)

Citation

KLEIN, T.E., 2014. How modern was Chinese modernity? Exploring tensions of a contested master narrative. International Journal of History, Culture and Modernity, 2 (3), pp. 275 - 301.

Publisher

© Amsterdam University Press

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2014

Notes

This article was published in the journal, International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity [©Amsterdam University Press] and the definitive version is available at: http://doi.org/10.18352/hcm.473

ISSN

2214-9910

eISSN

2213-0624

Language

en

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