Cover: Worrying about China: The Language of Chinese Critical Inquiry, from Harvard University PressCover: Worrying about China in PAPERBACK

Worrying about China

The Language of Chinese Critical Inquiry

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$39.00 • £33.95 • €35.95

ISBN 9780674032255

Publication Date: 03/30/2009


324 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


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This is an intriguing study that tries to capture the intellectual anxiety of an entire generation of scholars struggling on the ruins of the Maoist revolution. Gloria Davies argues that Chinese intellectuals’ interaction with political authority and their engagement with each other produce a polarity of discourses concerning China’s modern fate… This is a good book for those who wish to know ‘the language of self’ in contemporary China, and is perhaps one of the few works that tries to grasp, in its discursive forms, ‘the mind’ of today’s China.—Xin Liu, China Journal

Davies persuasively argues that by writing in the idiolects of Derrida, Lacan, Habermas, and Jameson (or Rorty, Hayek, Popper), Chinese higher social and humanistic criticism replaces those theorists’ skepticism and pluralism with ‘magisterial,’ even Confucian, epistemological and moralistic certainty—variously to strengthen China’s authoritarian state, recuperate China’s ancient transnational cultural imperium, or integrate China into ‘liberal’ global capitalism.—J.C. Kinkley, Choice

This is a book that has taken years to write and it will repay readers who approach it with due seriousness, thought, and time. Each sentence is carefully wrought and the whole demands the attention of any who would understand the ways that meaning is generated in China today.—Geremie R. Barmé, Australian National University

This is an interesting and original study of an important topic—contemporary Chinese critical discourse in its various forms, and what this discourse reveals about Chinese culture, society, and politics in post-Mao China. I know of no other book-length study of the era that is so systematically attentive to the critical discourses that have mushroomed in this period and to the evolution of Chinese intellectual consciousness as shaped and reflected in these discourses. Worrying about China will be a crucial source of information and insight for anyone who is interested in coming to grips with the enormously complex discourses that have helped shape post-Mao Chinese intellectual culture and consciousness.—Jiwei Ci, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hong Kong

In Worrying about China, Gloria Davies not only shows us how China understands and misunderstands Derrida, Lyotard, Rorty, and other postmodern thinkers, but also lets us glimpse how China understands and misunderstands both the West and itself. The book is an eye-opener for students of postmodernity as well as for students of Chinese culture.—Kevin Hart, University of Virginia

In this cogent and far-reaching work, Gloria Davies manages at once to provide a comprehensive account of the contemporary Chinese intellectual scene and frame it in the context of the ways in which similar issues are dealt with in the West. Davies zeroes in on the moral burden and sense of personal responsibility Chinese thinkers feel toward theoretical concepts, always sensitive to the dilemmas these thinkers feel in grappling with the new ideas embedded in new and globalized discourses.—Theodore Huters, University of California, Los Angeles

Worrying about China is a must-read for anyone venturing into the complex and fascinating debates of Chinese critical inquiry. Gloria Davies expertly excavates the web of contemporary writing on culture and politics, tracing its historical roots and identifying the moral imperative of critical intellectuals, who work within a spiritual conception of history in which patriotic worrying is a mandate. Davies’s research not only illuminates Chinese intellectual society, but also brings forward the conventions of knowledge that inform our own critical practice. A masterly achievement.—Wendy Larson, University of Oregon

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