The May Fourth Movement (MFM) has been regarded as a watershed in Chinese history. It was more than student demonstration against unfair treatment of China at the Paris Peace Conference; it was a “movement of and for the people”. It was a movement that gave birth to a range of new ideas and “shaped China’s momentous twentieth century” by initiating political development and cultural renaissance in Chinese society. This seminar, on the eve of the May Fourth anniversary, has been drawn out of the recently published volume titled, China's May Fourth Movement: New Narratives and Perspectives, by Routledge (International). Edited by Prof. Sabaree Mitra, this volume provides critical insights into the MFM from interdisciplinary perspectives.
This seminar looks at various facets of the MFM– the development of the May Fourth Spirit (MFS), Lu Xun’s contributions and its impact on the Indian public sphere. Prashant Kaushik in his presentation, “The MFS and the Communist Party of China: Evolution and Significance of an Umbilical Relationship” shows how the MFS has been attributed with different connotations during different eras of the CPC’s history. Christian Uhl’s presentation is titled, “Evolution, Eternal Recurrence, and Lu Xun’s Struggle with the Aporetic Temporalities of Capitalist Modernity: Reapproaching Lu Xun’s Yecao (Xu, Guoke, Ying de Gaobie)”. He argues that “Darwinist ideas on evolution” were the most productive source of inspiration for the intellectuals of the MFM. Through an analysis of Lu Xun's Yecao, he demonstrates that this oeuvre has universal significance as the manifestation of a profound struggle in the dimension of time. Natasha Nongbri in her presentation on “The MFM in Indian Newsprint: Glimpses through the Times of India” argues that the May Fourth Movement became a metaphor for change that left an impression on the then Indian public sphere, providing a backdrop for the emergence of a pan-Asian solidarity movement.
About the Panellists
Prashant Kaushik is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Prior to this, he taught at the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi. He holds an M.A. Chinese and an M.Phil. degree from the Centre for Chinese and South-East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He also holds a B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. degree in History from Hindu College, University of Delhi. He has been associated with the compilation of the Encyclopedia of India-China Cultural Contacts under the aegis of the Governments of India and China. He has written several book chapters and his articles have appeared in journals like India Quarterly and China Report. Currently, he is also pursuing PhD from the School of International Studies, Central University of Gujarat.
Christian Uhl has studied Japanese Studies and Chinese Studies at the University of Frankfurt am Main and the University of Heidelberg (both in Germany), the Nihon University (at Mishima, Japan) and the Shanghai Waiguoyu Daxue (China). He holds an MA (highest distinction), and a PhD (D.Phil., summa cum laude, 2001) from the Ruprecht Karls University (Heidelberg). For his doctoral thesis, “Takeuchi Yoshimi’s interpretation of the life and work of Lu Xun,” he was awarded the JaDe-Award of 2003. In 2007, he was appointed as a professor for Japanese Studies at Ghent University. Uhl's research focuses on themes in intellectual history and philosophy in Japan and – sometimes - China, from 2006, increasingly from a Marxian perspective. Among his recent publications is the essay, “Ideology, Quixotism, or Enabling Utopia? The Notion of Tianxia as a Model for a New Form of Global Governance and Coexistence, Seen in the Light of the Japanese Experience”.
Natasha Nongbri teaches at the Department of History, Janki Devi Memorial College, University of Delhi, India. She completed her doctorate from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her areas of interest include environmental history, history of commodities, socio-economic history of India and the history of modern China and Japan. Some of her publications include “‘Plants Out of Place’: The ‘Noxious Weeds’ Eradication Campaign in Colonial South India” (Indian Economic and Social History Review, 2016) and “Representing Tea, Creating Consumers: Tea Advertising in Late Colonial India”, in T. Nongbri and R. Bhargava (eds.), Materiality and Visuality in North East India: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Springer, 2021).
About the Chair & Moderator
Sabaree Mitra is Professor of Chinese and Chairperson of the Centre for Chinese and South East Asian Studies in the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University; an Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, and a member of the Editorial Board of China Report. Her teaching and research have spanned the fields of contemporary Chinese literature and criticism, Chinese cultural history, gender issues, and India–China cultural relations and regional interaction. Her publications include books and research articles including, Literature and Politics in 20th Century China: Issues and Themes (2005), “From ‘Popularization of Culture’ to ‘Popular Culture’: Discourse & Praxis in China” (JSL, Spring 2008), and numerous book chapters. Her latest publication, an edited volume titled, China's May Fourth Movement: New Narratives and Perspectives, was published by Routledge earlier this year as a global edition. Sabaree Mitra was the Chairperson of the Indian Expert Group that compiled the Encyclopedia of India-China Cultural Contacts (2014) under the aegis of the Governments of India and China. In 2017, she was honoured with the Special Book Award of China for her contributions in introducing, translating, and publishing books on Chinese culture as well as in promoting cultural exchanges.
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