Gan Yang


Gan Yang
b. 1952, Hangzhou
Intellectual
A leading Beijing-based intellectual activist during the ‘culture fever’ (wenhuare) of the 1980s, Gan Yang played an instrumental role in founding the book series, Culture: China and the World (Wenhua: Zhongguo yü shijie, 1985, CCCW). Gan’s essays in the 1980s emphasized, among other things, the need for a thorough-going revaluation of Chinese tradition and modernity. His innovative mode of critical thinking generated much interest among Chinese intellectuals and students. As editor-in-chief of CCCW, Gan also directed massive translation and publishing projects that provided mainland Chinese readers with unprecedented access to influential Euro-American scholarship.
Gan Yang experienced the Cultural Revolution as a ‘sent-down youth’ in Heilongjiang during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He earned his doctorate in 1985 from the Institute for Modern Western Philosophy at Peking University, where-upon he became an assistant research fellow at the Philosophy Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The network of scholars that Gan drew around him at both these institutions provided most of the intellectual labour for the CCCW editorial committee’s various publishing enterprises. Gan’s active involvement in the 1989 Chinese student protest movement led to his sudden departure from mainland China on 4 June 1989. Since then, he has resided overseas and is currently based at the University of Hong Kong. Gan remains an influential voice in contemporary Chinese intellectual discourse. Since the late 1990s, his publications have explored the importance of public participation in democracy, with particular reference to the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville.
See also: postmodernism (houxiandai zhuyi) and ‘post-ism’ (houxue)
Gan, Yang (2001). ‘Debating Liberalism and Democracy in China in the 1990s’. Trans. Zhang Xudong. In Zhang Xudong (ed.), Whither China? Intellectual Politics in Contemporary China. Durham: Duke University Press, 79–101.
GLORIA DAVIES

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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