CIW 2015 Annual Lecture
New Sinology in the Xi Jinping Era
Professor Geremie R Barmé
26 October 2015
Drinks reception from 5:30pm, lecture from 6:00 to 7:30pm
The Auditorium, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, The Australian National University
Geremie R Barmé is the Founding Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW), author, historian, film-maker, translator and editor. In 2012, he created CIW's The China Story Project and co-edits The China Story Journal. His latest books are: Beijing: Contemporary and Imperial, with Lois Conner (Princeton, 2014) and the China Story Yearbook 2014: Shared Destiny, edited with Linda Jaivin and Jeremy Goldkorn (ANU Press, 2015).
The Fifth CIW Annual Lecture to be delivered by Professor Geremie R Barmé.
When Xi Jinping became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2012, he declared that the Party was travelling along a 'Chinese path' 中国道路 into the future; it would not follow the 'old path' 老路 of Maoism or pursue the 'arrant paths' 邪路 of Western-style market democracy, rather it was forging a course unique unto itself. Xi was reformulating in party-speak a view expressed by generations of thinkers and historians that, as China continued to assimilate its Marxist-Leninist heritage, aspects of the country's political and philosophical traditions would re-emerge.
China's century long search for wealth and power has often overshadowed a more existential quest: the search for cultural, political and civilisational meaning. In the Xi Jinping era (2012-2022) this yearning, at home and abroad, is more bold and urgent than ever.
Official China has reconciled in many ways elements of pre-dynastic and dynastic traditions with the legacies of the Republican era (1912-1949) as well as with Maoism itself. A party stalwart himself, Xi Jinping is also an exemplar of this grand conciliation. In the Xi era, New Sinology 后汉学, which I first advocated in 2005 and which formed the intellectual foundation of the Australian Centre on China in the World in 2010, is more relevant than ever. It is a Sinology (or 'study of things Chinese') that is vitally engaged with China's contemporary realities, its various lived traditions and its cultural underpinnings. Such an approach, and its practical application, offers a crucial key to the understanding of China's past, present and future.