Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China

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9780195085792: Occidentalism: A Theory of Counter-Discourse in Post-Mao China

Xiaomei Chen offers an insightful account of the unremittingly favorable depiction of Western culture and its negative characterization of Chinese culture in post-Mao China from 1978-1988. Chen examines the cultural and political interrelations between the East and West from a vantage point more complex than that accommodated by most current theories of Western imperialism and colonialism. Going beyond Edward Said's construction in Orientalism of cross-cultural appropriations as a defining facet of Western imperialism, Chen argues that the appropriation of Western discourse--what she calls "Occidentalism"--can have a politically and ideologically liberating effect on contemporary non-Western culture. Using China as a focus of her analysis, Chen examines a variety of cultural media, from Shakesperian drama, to Western modernist poetry, to contemporary Chinese television. She thus places sinology in the general context of Western theoretical discourses, such as Eurocentrism, postcolonialism, nationalism, modernism, feminism, and literary hermeneutics, showing that it has a vital role to play in the study of Orient and Occident and their now unavoidable symbiotic relationship. Occidentalism presents a new model of comparative literary and cultural studies that reenvisions cross-cultural appropriation.

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In the first comprehensive study of Occidentalism in post-Mao China, Xiaomei Chen offers an insightful account of the unremittingly favorable depiction of Western culture and its negative characterization of Chinese culture in post-Mao China from 1978-1988. She examines the cultural and political interrelations between the East and West from a vantage point more complex than that accommodated by most current theories of Western imperialism and colonialism. Going beyond Edward Said's construction in Orientalism of cross-cultural appropriations as a defining facet of Western imperialism, Chen argues that the appropriation of Western discourse - what she calls "Occidentalism" - can actually have a politically and ideologically liberating effect on contemporary non-Western culture. She maintains that simplistic allegations of Orientalism frequently found in current critical discourses seriously underestimate the complexities of intercultural and multicultural relationships. Occidentalism presents a new model of comparative literary and cultural studies that reenvisions cross-cultural appropriation. It will be indispensable to future discussions of Orientalism, Occidentalism, and postcolonialism, as well as subaltern studies, Asian studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, and non-Western drama.

About the Author:

Xiaomei Chen is at Ohio State University.

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