Bringing the Jia Back into Guojia: Engendering Chinese Intellectual Politics
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Wesoky, Sharon R.
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Examining the silences on gender questions in contemporary Chinese intellectual criticism as a historical shift from early twentieth-century intellectual preoccupations with the “woman question” in Chinese confrontations with Western modernity, this essay argues that the greatest critical promise in contemporary mainstream Chinese critical thought lies both in clearer engagement with feminism and in an emphasis on the gendered resonances within this critical thought. Tracing the history of liberal feminist and radical feminist criticism of the early twentieth century and the emergence of vibrant but marginalized feminist work in the post-Mao era, and highlighting the work of the New Left thinker Wang Hui and that of the new Confucian Zhao Tingyang, I examine their considerations on the nature of the subject, the globalized state, and alternative modernities. Intellectuals’ attention to these questions is always already gendered and would gain greater critical scope through clearer mutual engagement between male and feminist critical intellectuals. This essay demonstrates that for the construction of an alternative modernity that transcends the authoritarian structures of neoliberalism in China, feminist frameworks and intellectual frameworks are most usefully considered as mutually constitutive.