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Thursday, December 18, 2014



I have confronted this term several times in my translation and my dictionaries don't help.  Google translate renders it "Brain huai" or "Brain pregnant"--which don't quite catch the nuance.  Any ideas?

Thanksm in advance,


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Greetings from Macao

Thanks to Alex and Xue for their work!

I'm here in Macao, and at dinner last night met 武云, who is Deputer Editor in Chief of the China Social Sciences Press.  We're going to "talk translation" at some point.  She brought up Chinese plans for translation--don't know if it's the same one mentioned on the blog or not.  We should at least try to be aware of these...Another thing to add to the list!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yu Jianrong, carefully outspoken expert in Rural/Conflict Studies at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

The Australian Centre of China In the World ran a good introduction and a piece of translation of Yu Jianrong (于建嵘) in the beginning of 2013: "In November 2012, Foreign Policy named Yu Jianrong one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers and described the famous scholar who works in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing as a ‘rare Chinese academic who has taken up the challenge of defining how exactly China could change course’. In his recent writings, Yu reflects both upon social stability 社会稳定 and reform – two equally beloved concepts of the Chinese party-state."

As of now, this popular scholar has over 1.9 million of followers on Sina Weibo

The article translated at the The Australian Centre of China In the World examined the disadvantages and destructiveness of China's "rigid stability" implemented ruthlessly by the authoritarian state and instructed a four-step recipe for "resilient stability". I think it is an article worth reading. It was firstly published in Aisixiang on October 2012.

Yu seems to be a critical and outspoken scholar who is smart at writing sensitive issues like "petitioning", "rioting" and "social stability" without getting himself into trouble. Maybe one way of achieving this was by not talking to foreign media, which he clearly announced on his Sina Weibo account in 2011/12.

The World Security Institute, an European research NGO published a series of articles related to China Security and the first article was Yu's Social Conflicts in Rural China. It was published in 2007 and some of the contents and ideas are a bit outdated. This NGO is new to me and I thought it was good to know their existence after all. For the other article in this link, Emerging Trends in Violent Riots (2008), Yu also softly advocated a more balanced control on social stability. It seems Yu has become more pushy over the years. 

Here is Yu Jianrong's collection of articles in Chinese in Aisixiang.

Series on Developing China — Translated Research from China

 Did anybody knew about this series?
Series on Developing China — Translated Research from China
Wang Zhongwei (CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee)
Qin Shaode (Fudan University)
Pan Shiwei (CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee)

Deputy Directors
Deng Zhenglai (Fudan University)
Chen Xin (Shanghai Century Publishing Company Ltd.)

Editorial Committee Members
Chen Jiaming (Xiamen University)
Chen Jiaying (Capital Normal University)
Chen Sihe (Fudan University)
Fan Gang (China Reform Foundation)
Fang Liufang (China University of Politica Science and Law)
Gao Yi (Peking University)
Guo Qiyong (Wuhan University)
He Huaihong (Peking University)
He Qinhua (East China University of Political Science and Law)
Hu Jingbei (Tongji University)
Jiang Yihua (Fudan University)
Li Qiang (Tsinghua University)
Lin Shangli (Fudan University)
Liu Kang (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)
Liu Qingping (Fudan University)
Liu Shijun (CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee)
Ma Min (Huazhong Normal University)
Mao Shoulong (Renmin University of China)
Qin Hui (Tsinghua University)
Qin Yaqing (China Foreign Affairs University)
Sang Yucheng (Fudan University)
Shen Dingli (Fudan University)
Shen Zhihua (East China Normal University)
Shi Jinchuan (Zhejiang University)
Shi Yinhong (Renmin University of Chin)
Sun Liping (Tsinghua University)
Sun Zhouxing (Tongji University)
Tong Shijun (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences)
Wang Hui (Tsinghua University)
Wang Yuechuan (Peking University)
Wei Sen (Fudan University)
Xu Jilin (East China Normal University)
Xu Xianming (Shandong University)
Xu Yong (Huazhong Normal University)
Xu Zhangrun (Tsinghua University)
Yang Nianqun (Renmin University of China)
Yao Yang (Peking University)
Yu Keping (Central Compilation and Translation Bureau)
Zhang Jun (Fudan University)
Zhang Shuguang (Academic Committee of Beijing Unirule Institute of Economics)
Zhang Weiying (Peking University)
Zhang Wenxian (Jilin University)
Zhang Xiaojin (Tsinghua University)
Zhou Guoping (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Series on Developing China — Translated Research from China contains a collection of the most outstanding academic articles written by prestigious Chinese scholars of humanities and social sciences within the last 30 years. All the contributors are native Chinese scholars who have experienced China's dramatic changes by themselves. In the past, research done by Chinese scholars has not been adequately represented in English due to the language barrier. In this series, all the volumes are quality works translated from Chinese to English. This series will benefit international readers interested in China's reform process and the development of Chinese humanities and social sciences.

This series is jointly launched by World Scientific Co Pte Ltd and Truth & Wisdom Press, Shanghai Century Publishing Company Ltd. All the volumes have Chinese version published by Shanghai Century.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Meeting with Xue


Xue and I met on Friday to talk about her first impression of the material we have connected and to try to plan future work.  We decided that for the next few weeks her job will be to think of "cooler" or more recent or less "establishment" intellectuals--people like Han Han, Li Chengpeng, Yu Jianrong.  One reason for this is that when you look at the various M.E. Sharpe translation series, it turns out that quite a lot of stuff is available in English.  This does not of course mean that we cannot work on these figures or that we will agree with all their choices about what to translate.  My impression is that Contemporary Chinese Thought or Chinese Law and Government any of the translation series serves a fairly niche, academic market, and is not aiming to do a broad representation of contemporary Chinese intellectual life as our documentary will presumably attempt to do.  A second reason is that the material available in English (or French, though there's less in French, I think) is very heavy on politics and economics, so we should at least try to get a sense of other existing worlds.  And finally, even if I'm basically comfortable remaining with "establishment" intellectuals who basically try to play by the rules, we still might want to consider some dissenters.

I will meet with Alex on Dec. 23.  He has checked out software programs that might be useful for our online translation exercises.

Xue suggested perhaps trying to set up a one-monthly translation group in Montreal, which sounds like good fun to me.  If by some miracle we get that started before formal translation labs evolve, we can test run the software and the larger process in that way.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

錢穆 and 天人合一

This post has only tangential relevance to our project, but I thought I would share it anyway.

When I was in Taiwan last spring, a member of the group I'm working on (the 天帝教) gave me a copy of Yu Yingshi's latest book:  余英時,論天人之際:  中國古代思想起源是談 (Taibei:  Liangjing, 2014).  This is because the unity of heaven and man was one of Tiandijiao founder/leader Li Yujie's 李玉階 major teachings.  In fact, Li first named his group 天人教 in 1943; 天帝教 came along in 1979/1980.  The practitioner who gave me that book was fairly typical for the group:  she is a well-educated young lawyer, who did at least one degree in London, England.  She joined the Tiandijiao in large measure because she felt that she never learned anything about Chinese culture while growing up, and for various reasons felt an emotional, spiritual need to connect with the tradition.  At the group's request, she enrolled to do a PhD in Chinese philosophy on the mainland (I think at Beida, but I'm not sure), even as she continued to work full-time in her law firm.  This is how she would have happened upon Yu Yingshi.  I was intrigued by this because it once again confirmed my suspicion that groups like Li's (we in the sub-field call them "redemptive societies," the best known representative of which is 一貫道) are not marginal "cults" peddling some variety of "heterodoxy" but instead perfectly "normal" groups whose constituencies are made up of the rather large numbers of Chinese who never really embraced the secularism preached by the CCP and/or GMD and who continue to value traditional Chinese culture.

The question of what "traditional Chinese culture" means in the early twentieth-first century is harder (for me) to answer.  Of course it means different things to different people, as traditions are reinvented by various people and groups in various contexts for various reasons.  In any event, I finally looked at Yu Yingshi's book in the hopes of learning more about the "unity of heaven and man" and the links between this concept and Li Yujie.  In the preface, Yu mentions an essay that his teacher, Qian Mu 錢穆, wrote in 1990, when he was 96 years old.  The essay is about the unity of heaven and man.  I tracked this essay down in about 15 seconds and translated it yesterday morning, just for fun.  Here's the translation, and here's the Chinese original.  The essay apparently kicked off an internet debate, on Taiwan and the mainland, that lasted for several weeks or months.  I haven't tried to find these rejoinders to Qian, but I might.

My question is:  what are we to make of Qian's essay?  On the one hand it seems trite.  He insists that man is part of nature and part of "heaven's will" and insists that this insight is the touch stone of traditional Chinese culture.  Furthermore, this belief will save mankind from European, scientific civilization, which has entered a period of inevitable decline.  So one the one hand, Qian seems thoroughly unoriginal as he channels Wang Yangming and Liang Shuming.  The Westerner in me is irritated by this kind of assertion:  how do you know, after all, that our lives unfold as part of heaven's will?  What kind of proof can we offer?  What kind of research test can we design?  And the way Qian talks about Confucius reminds me of how the Southern Baptist preachers of my youth talked about Jesus Christ--whose life and death on earth were indeed presented as the working out of heaven's will.

On the other hand, I think we should try to take Qian Mu seriously.  After all, this man knew more about Chinese traditional culture (among other things) than I ever will.  If this is where his thoughts took him as he reflected on a life of scholarship at the ripe old age of 96, why not indulge him?  And indeed, completely by chance I had been reading a few days before Marilynne Robinson's Absence of Mind:  The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self  (2011).   I knew about Robinson because she published a novel this year that made a huge splash in the Anglophone world.  The novel is called Lila and is the third in a trilogy (the first two are Giliad (2004) and Home (2008)) in which Robinson explores themes of faith and grace in a way that is--to me--deeply engaging.  The books are quietly astonishing and well worth reading.   In any event, in Absence of Mind, Robinson offers what might be taken as a sophisticated, Westernized version of Qian Mu's argument.  She attacks modern, positivist forms of thought such as sociobiology and Freudian psychology because they provide no space for a healthy, reflecting mind.  She insists that subjectivity "is the ancient haunt of piety and reverence and long, long thoughts. And the literatures that would dispel such things refuse to acknowledge subjectivity, perhaps because inability has evolved into principle and method."  Consequently "it is only prudent to make a very high estimate of human nature, first of all in order to contain the worst impulses of human nature, and then to liberate its best impulses."  She is asking for respect for intuition, much as did Wang Yangming and Qian Mu.  And writing best-selling novels that explore those themes.

Enough for a Sunday morning.  But I remain intrigued.  Timothy:  where do thoughts like Qian Mu's fit in your history of Chinese intellectuals?  Alex:  do your Shandong Confucians talk about stuff like this?  Xue:  what do you make of Qian's essay?  Josh:  what do Japanese sinologists make of Qian Mu?  His textbook, 國史大綱, was widely read in the 1940s...

Friday, December 5, 2014

He Baogang, The democratization of China and other works

Laoshimen Hao,

I was downloading all the documents in dropbox and found out about He Baogang 何包钢, who seems to have published quite a lot on China's democratization.

He has a bilingual blog that introduces his work:

To be continued...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Zhao Xue's translation of Wang Hui


I am pleased to offer you Zhao Xue's first translation, of a piece by Wang Hui:  去政治化的政治.../Depoliticized politics....  The Chinese text is here and her translation here.  Enjoy.  I will make the blog available to Xue shortly so all exchanges can be direct.

Welcome aboard, Xue!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Useful? bibliography available


I submit for your perusal and enjoyment Dave's first bibliography of publications by our Chinese intellectuals, particularly in English.  As I mentioned, I'm giving a course this winter that will be loosely based on our SSHRC project, and needed such a bibliography so as to be able to assign readings.  It was far more work than I thought it would be, because there was more available in English than I had imagined.

The intellectuals covered are basically those that we've been talking about since the beginning, drawn from Chaohua Wang's One China, Many Paths and Émilie Frankiel's Parler politique en Chine.  I didn't integrate those on Timothy's lists that Alex worked on, but will eventually.  I used the Harvard catalogue, JSTOR, google scholar, etc., to track down their English-language publications, but also googled in Chinese as well, so as to find their blogs, or collections of their writings, etc.  I have no doubt that I have missed a great deal, but at least it is a start.

From looking through this, it is easy to imagine what our data base will eventually look like.  I have tried to include basic biographies (cribbed from various places), as well as publications.  The challenge will be to figure out what to do with the vast numbers of Chinese publications, but you have to start somewhere.

For our immediate concerns, we can at least check this bibliography to see if a text that looks interesting has already been looked at.  The text that we played around with at Josh's house last time, the one by Cui Zhiyuan on the Chongqing Model, has already been translated twice--a short version (and for that reason largely incomprehensible) in China 3.0 and a longer version somewhere else (check the bibliography).  Of course, this makes no difference since we were just having fun, but it would be less fun to spend a week or two on something to find out that an energetic grad student had already beat us to the punch.

This group of intellectuals is top-heavy with political scientists.  This makes sense, the world being what it is.  But as we move forward it would be interesting and useful to make conscious efforts to broaden the focus.  There aren't that many historians, for example, and no sociologists so far (Sun Liping was on the other list...).