Speaker Series: Renren Yang on Modern Chinese Identity

On Friday, May 13, Renren Yang, a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, came to speak to students about evolving notions of Chinese identity in modern times.  Drawing on classical ideas of what it means to be Chinese, Renren showed how "Chinese-ness" represents a particular mixture of cultural, racial, and national identity.  Whereas the development of many other peoples' modern identities coincided with the emergence of nation states, Chinese identity today hinges upon a peculiar negotiation between the codification of the Confucian value system in the distant past which entails a cultural-racial conception of Han superiority and the model for multi-ethnic people nation in the present. It is therefore necessary to look for other parameters to conceive Chinese identities other than culturalism and nationalism.