Wang Hui


Wang Hui
b. 1959, Yangzhou
Intellectual, professor
From his origin in intellectual and literary history, Wang Hui has travelled across the broad academic and intellectual spectrum to become a leading social theorist in the Chinese-speaking world. A professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Qinghua University, he is one of the two editors-in-chief of Dushu [Reading]. His essays in this prestigious forum have led to the redefinition of the major issues facing China today. He has held numerous visiting positions and is affiliated with a number of academic journals overseas. Some of his work has been published in English, French, Japanese and Korean.
Underlying his scholarship on early-modern Chinese thought is an intellectual tension, which he historically reconstructs, between discourse and subjectivity, and/or between history and interpretation. The past is made to face squarely with the present, so that historical inquiry becomes part of any theoretical dialogue across time and place. His award-winning book on Lu Xun makes a soul-searching call for intellectuals to ‘resist despair’ in the aftermath of 1989. His critique of ‘scientism’ foregrounds the question of the ‘scientific interpretive paradigm’ and delineates how that paradigm has shaped and limited the production of knowledge in the twentieth century. In 1997 he published Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity (Dangdai Zhongguo sixiang zhuangkuang yu xiandaixing wenti). A cornerstone in the transformation of contemporary Chinese thought, it has become a benchmark for the New Left. A series of debates followed between leftist and neo-liberal intellectuals and pushed him even more to the centre of intellectual life.
See also: liberalism
Wang, Hui (1998). ‘Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity’ Social Text 55 (Summer): 9–44.
——(1998). ‘PRC Cultural Studies and Cultural Criticism in the 1990s.’ Trans. Nicholas Kaldis. positions: east asia cultures critique 6.1:239–51.
——(2002). ‘Challenging the Eurocentric, Cold-war View of China and the Making of a Post-Tiananmen Intellectual Field.’ Ed. Zhang Xudong. East Asia 19.1/2 (Spring/Summer): 3–57.
——(2003). China’s New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition. Ed. Theodore Huters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
——(2004). ‘The New Criticism’. In Wang Chaohua (ed.), One China, Many Paths. London: Verso, 55–86 [interview].
YUE GANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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