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In recent decades, highly heterogeneous literary and artistic articulations harking back to China's classical past have gained increasing currency in the global Sinophone space and cyberspace. Instead of dismissing them as “fetishisms” or authenticating them as “Chinese traditions,” I propose “Sinophone classicism” as a new critical expression for conceptualizing this diverse array of articulations. It refers to the appropriation, redeployment, and reconfiguration of cultural memories evoking Chinese aesthetic and intellectual traditions for local, contemporary, and vernacular uses, by agents identified or self-identified as Chinese. This essay proposes a subjective, intimate, and reflexive way to experience an individual's culturally acquired “Chineseness” that is temporal, mnemonic, and often mediated by digital media. It joins recent scholarly efforts to dismantle the view of “Chinese modernity” as a monocentric and homogenous experience by refocusing on classicism as a kind of “antimodern modernism.” It also joins the post-Eurocentric turn in global academia by hinting at a future of “global classicisms.”
When the famously nationalistic Japanese author Hyakuta Naoki published his best-selling novel A Man Called Pirate (Kaizoku to yobareta otoko) in 2012, which subsequently became both a manga and a major film, he renewed interest in the midcentury oil baron Idemitsu Sazō, using him as the model for the novel's lead character. Hyakuta claims to have aimed to inspire the country, reeling from decades of slow growth as well as the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster, by featuring a visionary Japanese leader motivated primarily by love for his employees and his country. This article traces the efforts across these media to render Idemitsu as a credible character, particularly in dealing with his real-life family as well as his “family” of employees. It argues that the partial disappearance of the “real” Idemitsu in these versions of Hyakuta's novel allowed the production of a more believable one—made believable in part because of the essential Japanese values that he ostensibly represents, even as the constraints on these representations hint at fissures and tensions in contemporary political use of biographical fiction and film.
Lala Lajpat Rai is increasingly viewed in historiography as a “Hindu nationalist” with a strong affinity with Savarkarite Hindutva. This article demonstrates that during the Khilafat movement, Lajpat Rai articulated a secular Indian nationalism that was sensitive to Muslim religiosity and Indian Muslims’ extraterritorial sympathies toward the caliphate and the Muslim world. Pigeonholing the entire thought of Lajpat Rai as “Hindu nationalism” obscures a historical-intellectual juncture when a Hindu political figure like him enthusiastically supported pan-Islamism as necessary for Indian nationalism. This article complicates scholarship that portrays Hindu responses to the Khilafat movement as consisting solely of fear and counter-consolidation. More importantly, by unveiling Rai's Khilafat-era nationalism, it uncovers the intellectual and political possibility of firmly holding a Hindu identity and articulating conceptions of Indian nationhood that are at ease with Islam and the wider Muslim world.
This article discusses the Habermasian public sphere as a realm constructed through communication and offers a critique of Jürgen Habermas's concept of an intersubjectively shared lifeworld among the participants as a fundamental prerequisite for communicative rationality in the discursive field. The article contends that the emergence of communicative rationality in the public sphere is unlikely to be facilitated by a singular and unitary modern public whose participants have commensurable languages and worlds. This argument is elaborated through an analysis of a public debate that occurred on August 10, 1888, between the Mahajan (headman) of the Modh Baniya caste council and Mohandas K. Gandhi, a Modh Baniya himself. Even though the discussion involved two people with an intersubjectively shared lifeworld, who were engaged in the deliberation as equals, the dialogue broke down, deepening divides. This article argues that the need to protect the spiritual domain from the polluting touch of the material domain led to the breakdown of communicative rationality.
By assembling more than fifty hours of interviews with eleven former Uyghur students and teachers, alongside an array of published and unpublished textual documents, this article offers the most complete history of the Uyghur student movements of the 1980s—in the face of considerable neglect and confusion. It argues, first, that the university functioned as a social, intellectual, and political space that allowed Uyghurs to develop their ethno-national identity, build shared grievances, and mobilize politically. Second, it argues that the December 1985 Uyghur student movement was a foundational turning point in the erosion of Hu Yaobang's accommodationist ethnicity policies of the early 1980s, changing how the Party-state diagnosed the reasons for Xinjiang's instability and delimited Uyghur political participation in the People's Republic of China. This article further unsettles later attempts by Chinese scholars to retroactively characterize the student movement as essentially separatist and the work of behind-the-scenes plotters.