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Special feature: The National Learning Revival

Guoxue/National Learning in the Age of Global Modernity

Arif Dirlik
p. 4-13


Guoxue as an idea and intellectual pursuit has a history of roughly a century in China. From its origins in the last decade of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), it has been integral to the search for a past that is appropriate to the formation of China as a nation. At the same time, its constitution over time has varied with changing conceptions of the nation, as well as its place in the world. Interest in guoxue declined during the height of the revolution, from the 1940s through the 1960s, but has enjoyed resurgence since the 1990s among scholars and the general public alike. This time around, it expresses a newfound pride in the past that has accompanied success in development, as well as an urge to bring inherited cultural legacies and modes of scholarship into a global dialogue on culture. While very much rooted in the history of modern China, it also parallels in this new phase a reassertion globally of traditions suppressed under the regime of Euromodernity. Its content remains vague, however, and subject to contention from different ideological perspectives.

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Bibliographical reference

Arif Dirlik, « Guoxue/National Learning in the Age of Global Modernity », China Perspectives, 2011/1 | 2011, 4-13.

Electronic reference

Arif Dirlik, « Guoxue/National Learning in the Age of Global Modernity », China Perspectives [Online], 2011/1 | 2011, Online since 30 March 2011, connection on 13 May 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Arif Dirlik

Arif Dirlik lives in semi-retirement in Eugene, OR, USA. He was most recently the first Liang Qichao Memorial Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing.

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