Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 10 September 2007

Portal issue on cultural nationalism in China

Portal, the multilingual online journal published by the University of Technology Sydney, devotes its January 2007 issue (in Chinese, guest-edited by Guo Yingjie) to cultural nationalism in China. There are articles by Kong Shuyu on costume dramas on Chinese television; Gao Mobo on a TV programme about a Ming general; and Zheng Yi on Yu Qiuyu’s Bitter Cultural Traveler. For Zheng, Yu is the socialist literatus-turned-culture entrepreneur par excellence; his success is due to his ability to weave great figures of the past into a seamless narrative that feels good to read and that nonetheless has a touch of the literary class. She writes that Yu does not argue against the official version of history, but encourages a more broad-minded view, in which Manchu and Han, communist and nationalist alike fit as long as they are “good”, i.e. appreciative and protective of the cultural tradition. I wonder whether it is also possible to read Yu as an attempt to( re)create a distinct highbrow niche in the cultural market. Since Zheng’s current research is on the creation of middle-class taste, I guess she wouldn’t be averse to such an interpretation.

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