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Traveling theory, or, transforming theory: Metamorphosis of postcolonialism in China


Since the end of the 1980s, when the term “postcolonial” first landed mainland China, postcolonialism or postcolonial theory has been vigorously traveling in China for nearly twenty years. From 1995 to 1999, postcolonial criticism prospered and aroused several consequential issues such as the problem of “aphasia” of Chinese literary theories and its reconstruction, “Postism” and its conservatism, cultural self-colonization phenomena, “the third world culture,” nationalism and the so-called “Chineseness” and so on. The articles and books published during the period witness the highest achievement of postcolonial criticism in China. But the hasty traveling of postcolonialism in China has elicited or exposed many serious problems in the circles of literary criticism and literary theories. Unhealthy academic ecology in China combined with the misappropriation of the Western source texts, provoking heated debates over nationalism, “Chineseness,” “aphasia” and intellectual responsibility. Through analyzing these complicated issues, the author intends to present his own understanding of the traveling and metamorphosis of postcolonial theories in the Chinese context, and to offer his critical reflections on the problem of how to borrow theories from abroad.

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Correspondence to Anfeng Sheng.

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The author wants to thank the Ministry of Education of China for its Humanities and Social Science Research Fund.

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Sheng, A. Traveling theory, or, transforming theory: Metamorphosis of postcolonialism in China. Neohelicon 34, 115–136 (2007).

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  • Aphasia
  • Chinese Context
  • Public Intellectual
  • Cultural Criticism
  • Binary Opposition