China-West Dichotomies as Topical Inventions: A Historical and Rhetorical Perspective

  • XIAO, Xiaosui (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The use of such cultural dichotomies as Chinese collectivism versus Western individualism to describe cross-cultural differences has recently incurred significant criticism for being overly simplistic. This criticism, however, becomes less relevant when these dichotomies are seen as rhetorical practices. The objective of this project is to demonstrate that the China-West dichotomies prevalent in China after the humiliating Opium Wars were rhetorically constructed to place China in an awkward position, one in which it had to learn from the rich and powerful West to survive modern challenges. The study will explain the popular appeal of these rhetorical constructions as the creative exploitation by modern Chinese reformers of the categories and commonplaces of Confucian discourse and their topical implications. The topical invention of the series of modern Chinese dichotomies of China and the West that ultimately led to the Chinese collectivism-Western individualism polarity will thus be closely examined. The study will look to a dynamic period of history to account for the most profound ideological changes that took place in modern China by furthering our understanding of how the modern Western themes of democracy, liberty, and individualism came to interact with the Chinese topical tradition.
Effective start/end date1/11/1131/03/15


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