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Response to Philip Huang’s “Biculturality in Modern China and in Chinese Studies”
Article from Journal - ilmiah internasional
Modern China vol. 26 no. 1 (Jan. 2000)
Biculturality in Modern China
Philip Huang’s essay is a welcome contribution to the effort to think outside the ideological categories of the nation-state, categories in particular that reify an individual’s identity as belonging to a national culture. He argues that while “the ideologies of anti-imperialism and nationalism condition us to think in terms of either/or dichotomies, culture as the lived experience of the people themselves does not carry such dictates” (Huang, 1999: 17). I am entirely sympathetic to this project and find much in the essay that is both refreshing and useful. At the same time, I want to show that nationalism is both crude and subtle; the ideological categories of the nation can run much deeper than we think. The cunning of nationalism, which raises its head to mock us just as we complete our deconstruction of it, has much to do with the fact that we have been formed by one or another national pedagogy. Indeed, I believe that the power of subjective or personal formation by nationalism is such that Huang’s contrast between “ideology” and “lived experience” quoted above may be too facile for his own purposes. My goal is to strengthen the thesis by showing how parts of Huang’s arguments may still embed certain nationalist assumptions. For biculturality to be a truly useful concept, we need to push the critique of nationalism further.
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