Xu Jilin and the Thought Work of China's Public Intellectuals

TitleXu Jilin and the Thought Work of China's Public Intellectuals
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCheek, T
JournalThe China Quarterly
ISBN Number0305-7410
KeywordsAREA STUDIES, article, Asian history, Autonomy, Culture, Government, Intellectuals, Liberalism, Peoples Republic of China, Public Sector Private Sector Relations, Values

This article takes recent theoretical essays by Shanghai scholar and public intellectual, Xu Jilin, and other scholars of the history of thought and culture (sixiang wenhua shi) as a case study of efforts by intellectuals in the People's Republic of China to define and promote a role as public intellectuals separate from the party-state. This analysis suggests that political liberalism is used in such intellectual discourse to explain the social experience of intellectuals in China today and to promote a renewed public role for them. This public intellectual discourse is characterized by the continued privileging of sixiang (thought), by the naturalizing of foreign theories about liberalism, and by the use of such thought work to argue for a renewed public role for intellectuals as interpreters of public issues rather than as legislators of public values.