Sharing values

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  • Published 20071204
  • ISBN: 9780733321276
  • Extent: 280 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

WE ARE IN an era in which the governments or cultural authorities (elected or self-appointed) are engaged in defining or articulating cultural boundaries. This search for national selfhood may be relatively benign, but attempts to codify and delimit the national essence of a territory, a people (and peoples) or a linguistic realm are fraught with difficulties and dangers. To define culture, which is itself the product of constant flux, the co-creation of numerous individuals, groups or collectives is a perilous and deadening activity.

In the case of China, it is now twenty years since the government first mooted codification of the new cultural essence of the nation – the guocui to use an old term imported from Japan in the nineteenth century. In a 1986 central government document on what was called ‘spiritual civilisation’ in 1986 the Communist Party attempted to articulate what it was to be Chinese under party rule. During the era of Jiang Zemin (1989-2002), new elements were put forward, and more recently Hu Jintao (2003-) and his fellows have propounded ideas about constructing an ‘harmonious society’.

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About the author

Geremie Barmé

Geremie Barmé graduated in Asian Studies from the ANU (majoring in Chinese and Sanskrit). He studied at universities in the People's Republic of China...

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