How modern was Chinese modernity? Exploring tensions of a contested master narrative
journal contributionposted on 2015-05-15, 08:52 authored by Thoralf KleinThoralf 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.
- Social Sciences
- Politics and International Studies
Published inInternational Journal of History, Culture and Modernity
Pages275 - 301 (27)
CitationKLEIN, 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
- VoR (Version of Record)
Publisher statementThis 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/
NotesThis 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