2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Imagining “Modernization”: A Survey of Chinese Intellectual Trends during the 1930s

Kwang-che Pan

Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica

This paper examines how Chinese intellectuals during the 1930s used the term “modernization” in their discussions about the future of China. After telling the story of the discursive history of modernization in the context of 1930s China, the author proposes that the term “modernization” functioned as a “narrative substance” before the rise of modernization theory in the context of the Cold War during the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, its meaning in the 1930s remained ambiguous, and it functioned primarily as “metalanguage” used to interprete the world and its history.


Keywords: modernization, cultural identity, historical narratives