Cover Photo Author: Joseph Brennan Scholars experiencing traditonal shadow play at the Xi'an Field Trip (2015)
––––– Art & Culture –––––
A Door Opened
Professor Donald Stone
International Art Association
Introducitng Armenia to PKU Primary School
The Greedy Tounges
Yenching Photo Contest
Organized by Nicola Angeli
––––– Opinions ––––– Brexiting, Remaining or Cancelling the Vote A Wonderful Political and Democratic Experiment
Being LGBTW in Contemporary China From Straight-Gay Marriages to the Rise Of Xinghun
Prof. Lin Yifu and the Development of Chinese Economics
China-Africa Journalism Forum How China and Africa See Each Other
Revisiting the Issues of the South China Sea
Questioning settled dogmas
What really happened in Turkey on 15th of June?
An Examination of the Themes Shared by H. P. Lovecraft and Lu Xun.
Sudarshana Chanda, India 2016 scholar from India, shares her thoughts before coming to the Yenching Academy. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…
hen I read these words as a 12 year old, I
were made weak and forced to stay weak through centuries of
wondered about this paradoxical era that
Dickens wrote about a hundred and fifty eight years ago. Little did I realize that nothing would come to echo the truth of those words more than this, our contemporary world.
Our first education was in prejudice. Us and them. They are like that. And we -we are like this only, as the famous pidgin English saying goes. Our very identity founded
We’re moving at a truly thunderous pace, ferociously
on “otherization”, on what we were not. And textbooks
trying to globalize, to become one large global community-
perpetuate this. We discovered this, they stole from us, we
and yet, in this era where boundaries are blurry and worlds
were glorious but they looted us. They needed us, they were
are shrinking, there is tension. There is not just tension, but
barbarians before we taught them civilized living.
rivalry and conflict. Our generation has not seen a world war, and yet, we seem to be ploughing through a world in which
You’d think education was supposed to help us evolve.
the history of war is very much alive. We come from heritage, all of us. Even newly born And we, in the midst of all this, are a truly curious bunch.
nations are old fragments, newly free. And we’re taught to be
An eclectic potpourri, curated by the Yenching Academy of
proud of this. And yet, from this pride stems arrogance and
Peking University. We have a pretty unique challenge before
prejudice. It seems to me that the folks at YCA know this very
us. We come from different places, different backgrounds,
well. Why else would they bring people from over 40 different
with at least two decades of a particular way of life, behind
countries and bring them together for a whole year, till their
us. We come from different nations. Nations that have not
histories of contestation are frozen- not forgotten, but frozen
always liked or gotten along with each other. Nations that
into a mirror of collective self awareness and humanistic
have at times warred with each other. Conquered, invaded
understanding. Till they no longer care who discovered what,
and inflicted brutalities on each other. Those who held power
but are thankful that it was discovered.
oppressed those who were weak. Those who were not weak, 1 | Yenching Yenching Review Review
专题 We represent an aspiration. If some of our world leaders
not cared to involve millions of poor in the struggle for India’s
had been at YCA, together for a year to challenge, debate,
freedom, if Shirin Ebadi had not cared for refugees, if Lincoln
argue, empathize and understand each other, then perhaps
had not cared to stand up against slavery, and if Ross Russell
history would have taken a different route.
had not cared to support Charlie Parker so he could create ‘LoverMan’. Their empathy led them to do what they did, and
My intention is not to present before you a grim picture of the world we live in. The world we live in is intensely
gave rise to the beauty in our lives. Empathy, after all, has a way of tampering with the soul.
beautiful, as is clearly exemplified by our very own campus here at Beida.
We have come through myriad journeys, and after this year, we may walk myriad paths. But we will have been
But in a community like ours, the risk of forgetting the
affected. Changed. Tempered. By this city, by this program,
past threatens the role we are to play in our collective future.
and by each other. And we will be better for it. It may not
It is threatened by self-congratulation.
always be easy; in fact, I’m sure it will not be. But something tells me it will be nothing short of extraordinary.
There is no doubt that there is something remarkable about what is happening here, about each one of us and even more so about us as a community. But my confidence is that if we recognize our privilege, we will be and do far better for it. We know now that education is not the great equalizer. It does not dissolve difference. And perhaps it shouldn’t. Perhaps education should help us acknowledge our differences and respect them, so we can build empathy. So we can empathize with those who disagree with us. With those who challenge the beliefs we hold dear and close. With those who go against the status quo, and also with those who reinforce and reinstate it. And this empathy, this empathy cannot be birthed out of individualistic living. This empathy cannot survive in a world where each human is a disjointed atom, an island, a rock. Where it is fashionable to sport a ‘don’t care’ attitude. Imagine a world if Da Vinci had not cared to trace every sinew in the human body, if Orwell had not cared to defend Wodehouse, if Mandela had not cared to accommodate white south Africans in post apartheid South Africa, if Gandhi had Feature | 2
Art & Culture
A Door Opened –––––––
by Professor Donald Stone Curator of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Peking University –––––––
n every person's life, I think, there's a moment when a
of 1982 I taught courses in English literature at Beijing Teacher's
door suddenly, unexpectedly opens, and you have the
College (later renamed Capital Normal University). I encountered
chance to walk through that door or else miss out on one of
the most extraordinary students I had ever met, some of whom are
life's potentially great experiences. In my case, the door opened
now among my closest friends, and I fell in love with China.
in 1980. While teaching at Harvard Summer School, I met an extraordinary Chinese scholar, Zhu Hong, who was part of an
I also fell in love with modern Chinese painting. All my life
exchange program set up between the Chinese Academy of Social
I have loved art, but in 1982 it seemed to me that Chinese artists
Science and the Academy of Science in Washington D.C. She knew
were painting the most beautiful modern works of the late 20th
my work on Victorian writers (especially Elizabeth Gaskell), and
century. With the help of one of my Teachers College students,
she immediately invited me to come teach in China! At the time
Sun Zhixin (who is currently one of the leading curators at the
I thought that going to China would be like going to the Moon,
Metropolitan Museum, New York), I bought works by Cui Zifan,
but I accepted her offer, I walked through that door and in the fall
Li Kuchan, Huang Yongyu, and other masters. I couldn't afford a
3 | Yenching Yenching Review Review
Qi Bashi or a Li Keran, but in those days you could buy a beautiful
throughout China, and with the proliferation of good-quality art
Wu Guanzhong for 500 yuan. My students, however, were mostly
books, more and more Chinese people became familiar with their
horrified when they saw what I had bought, and they thought I
great artists, past and present. I noticed, however, an interesting
should take my gorgeous Wu Guanzhong back to Rong Baozhai
paradox. Western museums in New York, London, Paris are filled
Gallery and get my money back. I refused. In 1991, when I
with Chinese masterpieces, and scholars in the west study Chinese
returned to China (this time as guest of CASS), I could no longer
painting: James Cahill and Michael Sullivan being two of the
afford a painting by Wu, but I could buy beautiful works by his
foremost authorities on Chinese art. But in China, few scholars
student Liu Yongming, with whom I became acquainted. A few
seemed to be studying western artists, and no Chinese museum
years ago Mr Liu painted for me the favorite Chinese work in my
contained (as of 2007) notable collections of western art! Except
art collection: a depiction of the Beida magpies, which I'm very
for visiting exhibitions from the West, Chinese viewers had little
fond of. It hangs in my New York bedroom, and it's the last thing I
chance to see an original Rembrandt or Picasso.
see before I go to bed and the first thing I see when I awake. So in 2007 I decided to do what I could to create a western As a result perhaps of the Cultural Revolution, my Teachers
art collection in China, in a very modest way, as I was living on
College students' lack of appreciation of the great living artists
my American pension. By then I had retired from teaching at the
also extended (in 1982) to their lack of knowledge of ancient
City University of New York, and had begun my second teaching
Chinese painting. When I returned to China, I would sometimes
career at Peking University. Needless to say, this has been the most
bring books on Chinese painting to introduce my friends to such
fulfilling experience of my life. I have frequently described the
great masters as Fan Kuan, Ni Zan, Ma Yuan, Daoji (Shitao),
Beida students as the finest on the planet and also the kindest.
and others. Fortunately, with the building of great museums
Since 2006 they, my English Department colleagues (and the
Art & Culture | 4
wonderful secretaries Sophie and Brook, and kind Mrs Zhang
In January I received an online catalogue from a French art dealer
Minyan in the Foreign Affairs office) have made me feel at home
(who had already sold me works for the "Gods and Heroes"
at this superb college, and I am hugely grateful. That is why I have
exhibition) containing two superb Titian landscapes. They will
assembled this collection, currently amounting to 420 western
be centrepieces in the new exhibition. But in the same catalogue
prints and drawings - to express my gratitude.
containing the Titians, I noted ONE landscape etching by Rubens, selling for 6000 euros (about 44, 200 Chinese yuan). The Rubens
We began modestly, in 2007, with an exhibition devoted to
is part of a series of twenty magnificent landscape etchings printed
the illustrations to Hamlet made by the great French Romantic
in Antwerp in 1640. Last year, at an auction in New York, I bought
artist Eugene Delacroix (best known for his painting "Liberty
the ENTIRE SERIES of twenty landscapes for about $1000 US.
Leading the People"). Only eighty sets of this great series were
(They had been consigned to auction by the Philadelphia Museum-
published in 1843, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Beida
-a wonderful provenance.) That means I was lucky enough to
now has one of the complete sets. We followed this up with
acquire the equivalent of 880,000 yuan worth of art for about 6600
exhibitions devoted to artists from the 20th, 19th, and 18th
yuan!!! The prints were of identical quality and rarity. For the fall
centuries. One exhibition was devoted to western landscapes. By
exhibition, we will exhibit the entire set of twenty. At present four
way of comparison, we displayed a fabulous etching of the Swiss
of these beautiful prints are on view at the Sackler Museum.
Alps by Peter Bruegel alongside a reproduction of a Ma Yuan painting of mountain peaks - to show affinities between the great
For 2917 I am planning an exhibition of British prints and
Chinese and western artists. By 2013 (in an exhibition titled
drawings and an exhibition of Western master drawings for 2018.
"Collecting Western Art for China") we were able to display 130
I will continue to look for good-quality artworks that I can afford,
works ranging from Rembrandt to Picasso. For 2015 our theme was
but it isn't easy. Yesterday there was an auction of old master and
"Gods and Heroes: Western Artists and the Classical Tradition."
modern prints in New York, and the prices were way beyond my
The English Department hosted a well-attended conference on
reach. I often feel like the leech-gatherer, described by Wordsworth
Western Mythology to accompany the opening of the exhibition.
in "Resolution and Independence," who looks for leeches (used in
Such famous scholars as Professor Zhang Longxi and Beida's own
the 19th century for medicinal purposes):
Liu Chun and Thomas Rendall delivered memorable talks.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
At present I am preparing an exhibition devoted to the
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Renaissance and 17th century masters, including such major figures
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."
as Raphael, Titian, Bruegel, Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Rubens. Finding important and affordable works by these artists is not easy, given my limited financial means. But fortunately, my art dealers in the West have been generous in their pricing of the artworks (two of them have donated works to the museum). Also I have been greatly aided by Chinese benefactors, Mr Wang Long and Mr Weng Hongwei, who have helped me to buy major works for the museum. On a number of occasions I have been lucky. For example, in preparing the new exhibition, I wanted to acquire woodcuts by the great Venetian Renaissance artist Titian.
5 | Yenching Review
"Still I persevere," because the best students on the planet deserve only the best art.
International Art Association ––––––––– by Zhang Junlan, China –––––––––
street. We also want to see arts from other cultures expressed and discussed in our association. There might be a gap between different
ringing together eager artists and those interested in the
languages but there is no gap between the different arts. We want
long history and heritage of Chinese art, the Yenching
to use arts to deepen the progress of cultural communication and
International Art Association was established in April 2016. The
increase mutual understanding.
original idea of founding this association was inspired by Iuliia Leonovich, a Yenching scholar, with whom we shared the same
Following this aim, we have so far organized two cultural
hobby – painting.. She is an enthusiastic lover of Chinese painting
exchange activities, which enhance the mutual cultural
and calligraphy and was looking to find a stage where can learn
understanding between China and the West. The first activity
and communicate with fellow art lovers. I felt exactly the same at
was a calligraphy workshop.. We invited Ms. Zhou Dongfen,
that time and began to think about finding a place, where we can
the Professor of the culture salon of Yenching Academy to be our
practice and communicate about art together. One special class
speaker. Several Yenching scholars took part in this event. Ms.
offered by Prof. Liu Chen, the teacher of our core course “Art of
Zhou conducted a speech on the history of Chinese calligraphy in
China”, finally facilitated our idea of establishing this association.
the beginning, providing in depth knowledge of the evolution of
She invited Dr. Wang Han from Art College of Peking University to conduct a Chinese painting workshop. In that workshop, we found there were exactly wide interests in Chinese art among our classmates from different culture backgrounds and some of them even showed a great talent. Many of them expressed their willingness of having further learning and communication activities and we finally decided to run an association for communication about art. We fixed the mission of our association as promoting traditional Chinese art to international friends through a practical way. From my point of view, Chinese painting and calligraphy are great culture treasures of China, and are essential for understanding Chinese culture in total. For international students who have great interests in Chinese culture and want to have a full-range of knowledge about it, it would be a great opportunity to experience those culture treasures in a practical way. Furthermore, communication is never a one-way
Art & Culture | 6
Chinese calligraphy from pre-Qin period to Qing dynasty and the
Weiming Lake was surprisingly wonderful on that day. Though
essential parts of every type of calligraphy. Later, she made some
most of the students had no experiences in Chinese painting, all
remarks on our practicing works and wrote marginal note “Happy
showed their great talent in it, which attracted the eyes of the
Mothers Day” on one of the participant’s artwork, which was a big
tourists near the lake. Thanks to Mr. Wang’s patient mentoring,
“love” in Chinese calligraphy for Mother’s Day. In the end, Ms.
everyone was satisfied with the breath-taking scenery of the
Zhou made a performance of different types of calligraphy such as
Weiming Lake in the end.
regular script and running script. She gave all students the Chinese characters as gifts. This workshop will be continued in the future.
Yenching International Art Association of Peking University is a club affiliated to Yenching Academy. We are going to run Chinese
Our second activity was a live Chinese painting workshop,
painting and calligraphy workshops in a regular basis and will
which took place in Jingyuan and beautiful Weiming Lake. Mr.
conduct several live painting in the future. We will also organize
Wang Han was the teacher of this activity, a Ph.D. candidate
seminars led by invited professionals as well as our talented
from the Art Department of Peking University. Mr. Wang gave a
members, which can promote mutual understanding and fusion
lecture on the topic of comparison between Chinese and western
among various art types from different cultures. Furthermore, we
compositions of artworks and introduced several classical Chinese
will organize visits to art exhibitions or events and will be starting
composition types. He combined the lecture with live painting,
our own exhibitions later. We will provide a free and creative
which kept the students engaged. Later, Mr. Wang took all the
environment which is open to any possibility, to hasten the growth
students to the Weiming Lake to conduct a live painting. The
and fusion of art.
7 | Yenching Review
Introducing Armenia to PKU Primary School ––––––––– by Ani Grigoryan, Armenia –––––––––
food and drink, as well as play traditional games, listen to the music of the country, paint with traditional techniques, etc. Most
Peking University student Ani Grigoryan talks about the
importantly, the students are not merely listening to the teacher
experience of sharing the culture of her home country, Armenia, at
talk, but are fully engaged in the interactive dialogue, during which
the primary school of PKU.
they share their knowledge, guesses and ideas on a given topic.
The first lecture on Armenia was an overview of the
eing a part of PKU not only gives us the opportunity
country’s geography, ancient history and alphabet, followed by
to enjoy an elite education, but also gives us the sense
an introduction of our capital city Yerevan with its 2798 years of
of belonging to China. Dozens of nationalities and cultures are
history. The children already had some basic knowledge and were
represented at the university, each having its unique aspects. All of
enthusiastically participating in the lesson and also asking curios
us live and study in harmony, sharing our impressions on China.
questions. To consolidate all they learned the students made their
At the start of March I learned that the PKU primary school
own tour routes explaining the reasons behind their destinations
“Fuzhong” in cooperation with a company named “Tulipower” is
of choice. In the second session the pupils were introduced to
organizing a lecture series on cultures and languages of different
Armenian foods and drinks, enjoyed a cup or two of Armenian
countries ( 郁力国际环球文化课 ) and I was really impressed by
herbal tea, listened to some traditional music and staged a beautiful
that program. Introducing our diverse world to primary school
dance under the teacher’s guidance. One of the most exciting parts
children is an amazing opportunity for them to learn about various
of the sessions was the students drawing their impressions of the
cultures at such young age, when their world-view is just beginning
country and signing their names in Armenian, using the letters
to develop. As someone who has been involved in intercultural
which they previously learned.
events for the most part of her life I became very much interested
Overall, I would highly recommend all international students
in the program and contacted the organizers. During our meeting
to share their diverse cultural heritages with the young and talented
I was told that their office invites representatives of various cultural
PKU primary school students. Especially those who speak Chinese
heritages to give interactive lectures, presenting the most interesting
could value the experience of speaking about their own language
and unique aspects of their cultural and national background.
and culture in Chinese and hearing back students’ curious and
Lecture series on Armenia entitled “Ancient Armenia” ( 古老的亚
thoughtful questions and comments.
美尼亚 ) were scheduled by the “Tulipower” representative after a deep and thorough discussion of our history, traditions, language, ancient culture, arts, holidays and cuisine. On April and May 2016 I was honored to represent my country and culture in front of the many talented students of PKU primary school. They have developed a very unique program for children, according to which the lecturer introduces his/her nation by vivid examples and comparisons, which help the students digest the given information in their own unique way. The teachers bring different items from their countries, such as traditional clothing,
Art & Culture | 8
The Greedy Tounges ––––––––– by Ani Grigoryan, Armenia –––––––––
presented 12-15 languages/dialects, including ChiShona, Turkish, Hebrew, Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Latin American
he Yenching Academy language club “The Greedy
indigenous languages, Lithuanian, Armenian, Japanese and
Tongues” has been a successful initiative attracting both
Italian. The format we have been following is- a representative/
PKU students and staff to learn more about various languages and
representatives of a particular culture and language/dialect giving
cultures spoken all around campus. The idea of having such a club
a presentation about their mother language (including cultural
came to me on Feb 21, i.e. on the International Mother Language
aspects) during the first part of the session, whereas during the
Day, which is formally recognized by the UN General Assembly and
second part they teach something to the participants, for instance
is celebrated in many countries. The aim of this day is to promote
the writing system (letters or characters), some basic expressions,
peace and multilingualism and our club follows the same concept.
interesting sayings, unique constructions, different usages of words,
The first Yenching cohort was very diverse when it came to
riddles, tongue twisters and even pick-up lines. Initially there was
their cultural backgrounds and had people who speak not only
some uncertainty amongst the presenters who didn’t have any
unique mother tongues, but also various languages, hence the club
linguistic background. They were unsure if they can present their
attracted many presenters and numerous interested participants.
language. For this reason a support team has been created to offer
Receiving full support from the Academy we initially had the plan
any kind of help with the presentations. After consultations and
of dedicating 1-2 hours every second or third week to so called
initial preparations the speakers presented their tongues in the most
“language sharing”, however, due to the immense interest, we
accessible manner for the diverse audience. Learning a lot about
changed from a biweekly meeting to a weekly event. In total we
their own languages, our presenters also discovered how interesting
9 | Yenching Review
and unique their languages are for others. Our speakers included
“ The Greedy Tongues”, as the name clearly states
not only Yenching scholars but also students from other PKU
has pushed us with a greedy need to dig deeper into our
departments. For some students the fact that the sessions were
civilization’s languages, the way we communicate with each
held in English became a chance to develop their English listening
other and with others.
skills alongside with learning about other languages. Nicola Angeli, a fellow scholar and a co-organizer of the club, initiated a series
Luis Felipe Borja, Ecuador
of small independent groups in addition to the sessions, where
PKU Law School
intermediate/advanced speakers of a particular tongue can use and practice the language they are learning. By the end of 2016
As a well-known quote says: “Through learning language,
spring semester, the language club, being an absolute success, was
we learn about culture. Through learning about culture, we learn
suggested to become an official PKU club and it is currently in
respect for others. Through learning respect for others, we can hope
the middle of application process. Having even more represented
for peace”, We gather ourselves in a classroom, and try to set an
mother tongues and unique cultural heritages, this upcoming year
hour to summarize our thoughts, a moment to appreciate different
we are going to hold our sessions on a weekly basis introducing our
languages, recognize our roots and how they have played an
diversity to PKU and to the world. For me, as for a linguist, “The
important role in world history. We come together, learn from each
Greedy Tongues” was an incredible opportunity to learn about so
other and try to decipher the questions, riddles, tongue twisters
many languages and cultural heritages ‘first-hand’, an opportunity
and puzzles in front of us.
that was granted to us by the academy. This year we are planning
This is how we benefited from the Greedy Tongues. It was an
to not only promote multilingualism, but also, to celebrate the
opportunity to share our culture through language, and share our
major holidays of each represented heritage at Yenching, embracing
experience through the display of joy, fun and happiness. After all -
multiculturalism and diversity.
everyone smiles in the same language.
Art & Culture | 10
Yenching Photo Contest Theme : AGE / 年岁
The Yenching Photo Contest is back by popular demand. Following the success of the first edition, this second edition catalysed the attention of many students gifted with photographic skills – or passion – or both.
However, this second edition witnessed an important change. The contest crossed the borders of the Yenching
Academy and welcomed submissions by all Peking University students, regardless of their level of studies or department affiliation.
Three prizes for one theme. 1000RMB, 500RMB and 250RMB for capturing on camera the ineffable presence of “AGE”, reflected in all its possible interpretations. Emphasising at this point how difficult it was to select only three photos among all the submissions might easily sound as a cliché. But as every cliché, it contains some truth. The selection process involved two steps. First, an online survey allowing the judges to rate all the anonymous entries. Second, a panel of judges discussed the top-rated photos, until the majority could agree on three of them. It was a long and uneven path, and the summer sun didn’t help either. Now, we are glad to present here the three entries that, due to their mix of symbolism, technical skills and creativity, were judged as the best ones.
11 | Yenching Yenching Review Review
A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National
Author: Huang Dawei
Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only
“The Gate to Performing Arts”
make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the
theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!
| 12 | 12 Art Arts && Culture Culture
A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National
Author: Huang Dawei
Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only
â€œThe Gate to Performing Artsâ€?
make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the
13 | Yenching Yenching Review Review
theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!
Arts & Culture | 13
A poorly dressed old man, carrying heavy bags, looks at the glittering entrance of the National
Author: Huang Dawei
Centre for Performing Art in Beijing. As for the reasons of his standing there, we can only
“The Gate to Performing Arts”
make guesses. We think this photo deserves the First Prize for its touching interpretation of the
theme and the overall quality of the composition. Congratulations!
Arts Art & Culture | 14
South China Se
Turkey Coup Attempt
15 | Yenching Review
Brexiting, Remaining or Cancelling the Vote A Wonderful Political and Democratic Experiment For those interested in political theory or international relations, Brexit was potentially the
by Jean-François Maurice, Canada PKU Law School
opportunity of a lifetime to observe the intricacies of democratic dynamics and political structures.
t is important to initially present a brief summary of the
and cause of the future ruin of the UK. Is it really? I, much like
issue and of how it culminated to be not only a political
these critics, am unable to predict the future and it is nonsensical to
event, but also an example of how fragile democratic values are
make any assessment based on what is unknown and fundamentally
and how nuanced is the realization of a democratic ideal. In the
‘70s and ‘80s, British “Eurosceptics” were most commonly found
But here are two certainties: for one, Brexit would be the
amongst the left, namely with the Labour Party who had certain
realization of a power that exists for all EU members under Article
reservations towards the economic liberalism brought about by
50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which was an amendment to the EU
the the European Common Market. The arguments from the left
constitutional structure. Therefore there is nothing extreme or
were not all that different from the ones heard during the Brexit
fundamentally against European values about exercising that right.
referendum from the Leave camp: loss of sovereignty and the
Organizations and alliances result from negotiation and must satisfy
impossibility to engage in nationalist measures, the main difference
the needs of their members. Where a federation such as the EU
being that the left was then hoping to preserve and encourage
is perceived as less beneficial than a different arrangement or total
socialist and protectionist policies.
independence, it makes logical sense for its member to renegotiate
With the transformation of the “European Community”
or exit. This brings us to the second point, which is that the UK,
into the European Union in 1993, Eurosceptics became more
through Brexit, would recuperate its full sovereignty in many
prevalent within the British right amongst the Conservative Party
domains and would be free to arrange services and bureaucracy in
and the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The latter has been
a way that would – potentially - better serve the interest of Britons.
advocating for Brexit since its inception, also in 1993. At first, the
Simply put, the UK is trading a set of tools for another, with the
idea was dismissed, often laughed at and denounced as far-right
hope that they will be better fitted for whatever objectives the UK
fearmongering, but the rise of UKIP in recent elections and the
has. In itself this is not disastrous at all and speaks nothing of what
accrued popularity of their cause amongst the Conservative Party’s
“objectives” exactly the UK will pursue. Said “objectives” will mainly
voting base has given legitimacy to Brexit and made it part of the
be determined through subsequent national elections. The Leave
mainstream political conversation. It all came to a – relative –
camp has been claiming that a renewed organization of the UK’s
conclusion this last June 23rd, as the “Leave” vote won the Brexit
sovereign power (exercising them directly rather than delegating to
referendum, with 52% of total votes.
the EU) will be better suited to fulfill the will and serve the needs of
Following the results, a myriad of critics and disappointed
the British people.
“Remain” voters went on to attack the Brexit referendum and the
Yet, the reaction to the Brexit referendum results is worrying.
decision recommended by the vote. Together with nearly every
What we have seen in the UK is a liberal left (traditionally pro-
single media outlet in the world they denounced it as a catastrophe
democracy, human rights and individual freedoms) and intellectual,
Opinions | 16
urban youth who have turned on the vote result and tried to
in a democracy, one man’s ignorance is equal to another man’s
delegitimize it by targeting specific groups and antagonizing them.
knowledge. But these patronizing and elitist attitudes serve to
Older voters were blamed; some even suggested that their votes
remind us why poorer, less educated or non-urban segments of the
should not have been counted since they will not have to “live with
population need an equal right to decide for themselves and thus
the consequence of the decision.” This is an extreme fallacy if there
escape the tyranny of a supercilious minority.
is one. Older voters benefit from experience and are better able to
Many critics claimed that some “Leave” voters had changed
put certain events in their limited context and then contrasting
their minds upon seeing the results and that it justified a re-vote.
them with more global, longer-term trends. A beautiful Greek
Would they argue for the same had they won? When a referendum
proverb says “a society grows great when old men plant trees, whose
is held, people are supposed to be informed or to have sought
shade they know they shall never sit in”. If the opinions of older
enough information to make an enlightened decision. It is their
voters are systematically dismissed as soon as they do not exactly
responsibility to vote with certainty and determination, without
conform to the ones of the younger generation or to the political
expecting a do-over. Otherwise, all votes would automatically have
doxa, we may never benefit from the sense of legacy that would
to be held multiple times. Furthermore, to ensure fairness and good
motivate our elders and from their resolve to leave the world better
faith, such rule as a “re-vote” possibility should be decided before
than when they came into it. Does experience necessarily translate
the vote is held rather than demanded afterwards.
into wisdom? No, but neither does youth or adherence to modern political trends. Citizens of rural areas were blamed. The less educated were blamed. Many seemed to forget that all citizens are meant to be equal. To paraphrase Isaac Asimov, this is not to say that
In this way, the Brexit referendum, as a case of political theory, illustrates the fragility of democratic values and of the structures we create to realize them. It showed us how discontented segments of the population may be quick to dismiss some of our core values. Besides, the legal ramifications of the vote further give rise to an array of unresolved questions. The most important issue stems from the fact that the referendum was merely consultative and not binding, which means that the UK parliament, in theory, could disregard its result and vote against any legislation that would trigger Article 50 or initiate the process to do so. A parliamentary majority of 326 members could effectively block a motion decided by over 16 million voters. How legitimate would it be? Representatives in Parliament could technically be justified in doing so based on the Brexit referendum results in their local ridings. This has the potential to be in conflict with the overall national result, with party lines or even with results of the previous general election. As mentioned earlier, there is no way to predict the long-term consequences of the Brexit vote. There is also no way to predict the result of the UK-EU negotiations, if Article 50 is indeed triggered. One certainty though is that nothing can be taken for granted and that vigilance and wisdom are still needed to
by Zhang Zhunlan
17 | Yenching Review
preserve our democratic institutions and protect the values we hold as fundamental to our societies.
Being LGBTQ in Contemporary China From Straight-Gay Marriages to the Rise Of Xinghun
by Magdalena Gonzalez, Chile Yenching Academy
eing part of the LGBTQ community in most parts of the world is a struggle. China is no different. Homosexuality was decriminalized in China only in 1997 and declassified as a mental illness in 2001. Today being LGBTQ is still not viewed
as a person’s inherent identity, but rather as a negative lifestyle or as a socially unacceptable sexual hobby. Simultaneously, the Chinese Communist Party has often played a contradictory role towards this community using a “not encouraging, not discouraging, not promoting” ( 不 支 持 , 不 反 对 , 不 提 倡 ) approach, thereby revealing that structural and political constraints remain present. A comprehensive report launched on May 17th, 2016 by the United Nations Development Program in Beijing found that only 5% LGBTQ are willing to speak their diversity openly. The situation becomes even more difficult in a society that puts high pressure on young Chinese to get married and have children.
The Tonqi & Tongfu Phenomenon
of this phenomenon. Straight-gay marriages reveal the huge amount of pressure homosexuals face in China, as they feel forced
ccording to Zhang Beichuan, renowned scholar on
to engage in such marriages. The reasons? Primarily to hide their
LGBTQ issues in China, there are about 20 million gay
homosexuality, have children, honor the parents and thus conform
men in China, 80% of them married to heterosexual women. In
to the traditional ways of Chinese society.
other words, 16 millions gay men have married straight women. This phenomenon has recently been discussed in a China Daily article (“Wives in sham marriages hidden in the shadows”, April 22nd, 2016), highlighting the case of these women, also known as tonqi – a combination of tongzhi (“comrade”) and qizi (“wife”). The cases of heterosexual men married to lesbians – the tongfu have been less researched but are also certainly existent.
A Problem Leading Another: The Emerging Alternative Trend Of Xinghun
n the other hand the decline of straight-gay marriages comes with the rise of what seems to become an
emerging alternative trend: the union between lesbians and gay
Straight-gay marriage has recently been receiving more public
men, or xinghun as called in Chinese. Also known as ‘cooperative
attention, especially through social media, where the LGBTQ
marriage’ or ‘contract marriage’, xinghun is considered by a large
community launched a campaign to denounce these arrangements
proportion of the Chinese LGBT community as a more honest and
and discourage other homosexuals to follow the same path. Many
transparent option in which both partners are fully aware of each
selfies were posted with the hashtag #ImGayAndWontMarryASt
other’s sexual preferences and consensually agree on the terms of
raightPerson. Some parents showed their support and joined the
their marriage. Social media, such as specialized apps and websites,
discussion too. Tonqi and tongfu are indeed not the only victims
have undoubtedly played an important role in the marketing of
Opinions | 18
by Zhang Zhunlan
this practice. Chinagayles.com boasts of having achieved about 50,000 successful matches. Liao Zhuoying, the founder of a similar
patriarchal institutions and values. Ultimately, the goal is to eliminate the
app called Queers, sees his product as a solution-provider service
barriers of inequality and discrimination
allowing a win-win situation for gay and lesbians that would not
that LGBTQ people face in their daily life. In the short-term,
come out to their families. Just like straight-gay marriages, the
education and evidence-based information seems to be the most
fundamental goal is to alleviate the pressure from the parents
realistic approach to improve social attitudes towards sexual
who await to see their children marry. In 2013, He Xiaopei a
orientation and gender identity. This is all the more possible in
renowned minority rights advocate, released the documentary â€œOur
a country rapidly changing towards a more progressive society.
Marriages: When Lesbians Marry Gay Menâ€? portraying the lives
In this context, the LGBTQ community has a challenging
of four lesbians from Shenyang who decided to marry gay men
opportunity to actively engage in a coordinated effort with the
in order to silence the overwhelming family pressures. One of the
civil society, academia and policymakers to guide these changes
women asserted that even if China legalized equal marriage, she
into a more inclusive society. Such changes could, for instance,
would still have opted for cooperative marriage in order to protect
lead to the improvement of the legal framework that currently
her family from social shaming.
does not provide basic rights to LGBTQ people. Does China have
a long way to go towards these goals? Arguably, yes! It is left to otwithstanding the possible benefits of xinghun,
desire that absolutely equality to all members of society, including
they still are detrimental to a more tolerant society,
members of the LGBTQ community, will be among the priorities
because it supports status quo and reinforce heteronormative
19 | Yenching Review
of Chinaâ€™s future development.
Professor Lin Yifu and the Development of
Chinese Economics By Jackson Tse, USA Yenching Academy
o the casual Western observer of China, the name Justin Lin Yifu may not immediately ring a bell. Indeed, a
layperson’s understanding of development economics is colored with names like Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier, scholars who
1. China benefited from a latecomer advantage
articulated the need for the increased development aid packages
According to Lin, China was able to sustain dynamic
and market liberalization and reform. But Lin has arguably made
economic growth because of its latecomer advantage – what
an equally significant impact in the field, first by pioneering the
he called the “advantage of backwardness.” Increases in labor
field of New Structural Economics, then by serving as the first
productivity, in Lin’s understanding, are derived from technological
Chief Economist of the World Bank from a developing country.
innovation or industrial upgrade. Because high-income countries
During his tenure four-year tenure between 2008 and 2012, he is
operate at the frontiers, innovation comes about by inventing
credited with pushing the Bank towards emphasizing infrastructure
indigenously. The success rate of such innovation, however, is quite
development as a crucial component of development.
low. Low-income, developing countries, conversely, benefit from a lower cost of innovation/upgrade from “imitation, importation,
An economist by training, Lin was born in Yilan County,
and licensing.” Because they do not need to invent indigenously,
Taiwan. He served in the ROC military and was hailed as a model
they are able to grow much faster. China thus benefited from this
soldier. On May 17, 1979, he defected from the Taiwanese side,
latecomer advantage. But given that the technological disparity
making the arduous swim across the strait to the nearby island of
already existed for a significant period of time, why did it not grow
Xiamen. In a letter to his family written a year later, he underscored
that “based on my cultural, historical, political, economic and military understanding, it is my belief that returning to the motherland is a historical inevitability; it is also the optimal choice.”
2. China gave up the advantage of backwardness
In the Mainland, Lin studied economics in Peking University, and
Lin asserted that growth did not occur during the pre-reform
later completed his PhD at the University of Chicago. He founded
era because Chinese policymakers gave up their “advantage of
the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University, and
backwardness.” In 1949, China had a massive labor force but was
currently serves as Professor and Honorary Dean of the National
capital-scarce. As such, its competitive advantage was in labor-
School of Development.
intensive industries. The growth strategy in 1949, however, was to develop large-scale, capital-intensive industries. These sorts of
On a sunny afternoon at Peking University, I had the
technologies could not simply be imported over, and thus China
opportunity of hearing Professor Lin lecture on Chinese economic
had to invent them. Moreover, Chinese firms were uncompetitive,
development. Titled “Demystifying the Chinese Economy,” his talk
and had to be supported by state subsidies, leading to a massive
addressed the historical, present, and future drivers and costs of
misallocation of resources. Both these factors contributed to slower
Chinese growth. There were five crucial takeaways.
growth for the Chinese economy during the pre-reform era.
Opinions | 20
3. The Chinese transition strategy was appropriate
costs, Lin asserted that they have to be differentiated and segmented into two component parts, costs associated with the
Excluding China, Lin argues that the transition strategy for
stage of economic development and costs associated with the
socialist countries was flawed. As a panacea for economic ills,
growth strategy. For example, Lin categorized pollution and
most of these countries adopted market-based reforms through
environmental degradation as a cost associated with China’s
“shock therapy.” Reforms were implemented in a dramatic,
economic stage, particularly considering China’s size and its
immediate fashion, and were aimed at rapidly transforming a
reliance on manufacturing as the main production activity. To
planned economy into a market economy. These included the
solve this externality, Lin asserts that China should grow faster
release of price and currency controls, the massive retrenchment
and adopt green technology.
in state subsidies, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the sudden introduction of trade liberalization policies. In Lin’s
Conversely, Lin defined income disparity and corruption as
understanding, these interventions were endogenous to large-scale
costs associated with China’s growth strategy. Income disparity
state owned enterprises. “Because firms were not economically
occurs due to the dual-track strategy; the Chinese poor end up
viable,” he explained the audience, “there would be severe
subsidizing the production activities of state-owned companies.
unemployment and economic/political collapse.” Moreover, the
Corruption is a byproduct of state control, monopoly rent, and the
introduced backdoor protectionist subsidies would usually be less
purchasing of contracts and licenses – a system created to protect
efficient than the protectionist subsidies in the past.
China, on the other hand, adopted a more appropriate transition strategy. This strategy, according to Lin, consisted of two
5. China will achieve its targeted 6.5% growth rate
dimensions. First, Beijing facilitated liberalization through Special
Based on his calculations, Lin argued that China has 20 more
Economic Zones (SEZs), which served as laboratories and testing
years of 8% growth. The downward trend in recent years, in his
grounds for gradual market-based reforms. Dynamic growth in
eyes, is a combination of two factors – the sluggish recovery of
these SEZs would create opportunities for reform in old sectors
high-income countries, and slowing investment associated with the
– they would do this by making old sectors consistent with their
transition from an investment-export based model. Lin believes
overall competitive advantage. Second, Beijing protected old
that the mitigation of these factors, coupled with increases in
sectors, preventing large-scale unemployment.
Chinese consumption, will drive greater growth in the near future.
4. Differentiating between “Stage” costs and “Strategy” costs is critical
Professor Lin concluded by encouraging us to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of China. To understand China in all its complexity, we need to move beyond the mainstream model of economics. By doing so, we will be able to not only learn from
This was not to say that Chinese economic growth has come without social and environmental costs. To address these
21 | Yenching Review
China and derive lessons from the Chinese experience, but also apply them to developing countries across the world.
China-Africa Journalism Forum How China and Africa See Each Other
by Sihle Nontshokweni, South Africa Yenching Academy
“It is an exciting time to discuss China-Africa relations.” –– Zhenxing (Bruce) Chen, a Yenching Scholar, said as he began his opening speech at the China-Africa Journalism Forum held on May 14th, 2016.
he forum brought together journalists from Africa
“If the story does not serve Chinese interest, the story does
and China, Chinese professors, the former Chinese
not get told,” an attendant of the forum said during the Q&A
ambassador to Eritrea and Rwanda, as well as representatives
session. In line with this sentiment, the former Chinese ambassador
from Chinese enterprises in Africa to share their experiences and
to Eritrea and Rwanda, Mr. Shu Zhan highlighted that Chinese
opinions about “How China and Africa See Each Other.” This
media should not only cover the Sino-Africa relationship but
thought-provoking event was organized by the Yenching Academy
further report African countries independently and objectively.
of Peking University and International Sino-Africa Watch (ISAW), co-organized by the Center for African Studies of Peking University and supported by the Peking University African Students Association (PUASA).
The first speaker of the Forum, Lianxing Li (Secretary General
of China-Africa communications program of Tsinghua University, CCTV) emphasized how important it is for Africans to actively seek knowledge about China, principally because of China’s
The conversation kick-started with a video documented by the School of
expanding economic ties in the African continent.
He continued that without Africans telling their own
Journalism and Communications of Tsinghua
story about the China-Africa relationship, China would
University. In the video, Beijing-based respondents are first
maintain virtual dominance on the reporting on Africa
tested about Africa’s regional facts, followed by questions
for the Chinese audience.
on their perceptions of the continent and its people. The low level of knowledge demonstrated by the respondents highlighted a low level of coverage of Africa in Chinese media.
Financial deprivation associated with media
operations in Africa was identified as a key challenge that has
led to slow progress in increasing media coverage of Africa in To deconstruct the existing representations of the stereotypical
China. Despite the said difficulties, Lovering Sichizya (A journalist
“lazy” Africa and a “China that is a new colonizer, supporting
working with the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS)
‘rogue’ African states”, Liu Haifang (Associate Professor at School
called for more African journalists “to rise above their challenges
of International Studies, Peking University; Deputy Director &
by engaging more interactively seizing all available opportunities to
Secretary General, the Centre for African Studies, Peking University)
report more on African issues for different media in China so as to
engaged the audience to think about ways to deconstruct the
move forward the African agenda instead of waiting for sponsored
hegemonic images that make up the Africa-China relationship.
programs or reporting projects…”
Opinions | 22
At a micro level, Zizhu Zhang (Freelancer and Special Correspondent based in Africa) brought up some of the challenges faced by Chinese reporters. Poor infrastructure, low internet access and lack of logistical support inhibit journalist’s effectiveness in coordinating and reporting on the ground. This latency is compounded by budget constraints. Consequently, it has become common for private reporters to rely on established sites such as CCTV, Al Jazeera and BBC. This dependency skews reporting and allows established media sites to dominate Sino-Africa news. It is clear that without increased funding, private media will continue to face challenges in covering China-Africa news. Lovering Sichizya emphasized the dire need for more positive stories to improve public perception on the continent and called for more stories highlighting peace in Africa instead of ubiquitous turmoil. Simon Matingwina (a Ph.D. candidate from Zimbabwe at the Communication University of China) agreed and echoed the desire for China-Africa reporting to move towards Constructive Journalism, journalism that empowers audiences by offering holistic coverage, with a focus on solutions. Looking to the future of China-Africa reporting exchanges, Yanqiu Zhan (Professor of Communication, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Journalism and Communication, the Communication University of China (CUC)) advised African media practitioners reporting in China to incorporate an engaging and open mindset when working with the local media industry in China The final speaker, Shengkang Cao (A blind world traveler) shared his personal traveling experiences in the African continent. The final closing speaker, John Holden (Associate Dean of Yenching Academy), affirmed the value of the China-Africa Journalism Forum and suggested that a follow up forum ought to be led by scholars at the Yenching Academy. This will serve to promote active discussions on ways to enhance positive images of China-Africa relations.
23 | Yenching Review
Revisiting the Issues of the
South China Sea by Alex Palmer, USA Yenching Academy
uring the semester the Yenching Academy welcomed Captain Tian for a talk on the applications of
international law to the South China Sea. Educated in law in both
Capt. Tian spoke extensively and deeply about other areas of
China and the United Kingdom and now serving as a Section
law both large and minute, punctuating his remarks with quotes
Chief for emergency management and media relations at the
and examples that portrayed other countries, particularly the
Chinese Ministry of Defense, Capt. Tian was ideally equipped for
United States, as unduly stubborn or hypocritical, like a 1910
a provocative discussion on a topic that has provoked controversy
quote from U.S. Secretary of State Elihu Root criticizing Russia
and friction for years among legal scholars, security analysts,
for activities that the United States has now seemed to embrace
political scientists, and government leaders.
itself. The quotation was representative of Capt. Tian’s approach in general: within a historical framework emphasizing the need
Capt. Tian began by emphasizing that he was speaking in
to balance sovereignty and freedom within an elaborate and ever-
a personal capacity, and that he did not intend to hold back his
changing legal framework, he took pains to point out instances in
opinions. “I’m not speaking here to please you,” he said. “I’m here
which China has adhered to or benefited from international law,
to hear from you, and to exchange ideas with you.” Though Capt.
and particularly cases where other countries have seemed to bend
Tian’s presentation was framed within the context of centuries of
the rules of similar laws.
legal history, the focus of his talk was clear: in his first slides, he emphasized that the Freedom of Navigation program started by
The implications for the South China Sea, Capt. Tian said,
the United States in 1979 to maintain free and open international
are clear: the area was “free, open and stable with no problem of
waterways was “not just an issue for China,” but rather, he said, for
the freedom of navigation before US ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy.” The
all of East Asia. Capt. Tian then launched into a detailed history
Chinese garrisons in the area have a long history, he continued,
of the Law of the Sea and navigational rules from 1494 to the
but other countries in the region who act in a similar fashion
present day, headed by a quote from the French philosopher Baron
are “illegally occupying Chinese islands.” Furthermore, China’s
de Montesquieu: “Liberty is a right of doing whatever the law
controversial program of construction in the South China Sea does
not affect freedom of navigation, he argued – the program is only a “reactive measure” to the U.S. pivot.
Using an animated illustration of the legal division of maritime zones and entitlements, Capt. Tian discussed the areas of
Before the pivot, Capt. Tian continued, there were no
agreement and disagreement between China and the United States
complaints about adherence to international law in the South
in interpreting international law. The United States, for instance,
China Sea. He characterized “the change of US operational patterns
says that warships should be allowed distress and assistance entry
and attitude” as “provocative, hostile and aggressive” “incursions.”
into coastal waters that are otherwise off limits to such ships; China
“All ships,” Capt. Tian said, “including Americans, are welcome in
rejects this claim, and more generally the idea of innocent passage
these waters,” but as it stands the “US undermines legal regional
by warships in areas bordering its territorial waters.
order, peace and security.” This was the clear reality of the situation,
Opinions | 24
Capt. Tian concluded, adding, “We lawyers only speak facts and
the Sea – we apply the Convention every day.” Finally, when a
student mentioned that China seemed to be acting unilaterally in drawing boundaries and building structures in the South China
During the question and answer period, the first student
Sea, Capt. Tian cited the U.S. invasion of Iraq to show that if
questioner pressed Capt. Tian on China’s militarization of the
China were acting unilaterally, it was nonetheless less egregious
South China Sea and its controversial and ill-defined “nine-dash
than the actions of other countries.
line” overlapping with the claims of other Southeast Asian nations. In response, Capt. Tian argued, “China has never clarified its legal
For the students present, Capt. Tian’s presentation did not
boundary because China can’t survey these islands because they are
disappoint – it was provocative, shedding light on an important and
illegally occupied by other nations like Vietnam.”
controversial perspective rarely heard in legal or diplomatic circles outside of China. In this way, the talk was a fitting microcosm of
Another student noted that while Capt. Tian cited the
Yenching Academy’s larger mission: to bring together Chinese leaders
International Court of Justice in his talk, the country has rejected
and scholars with students from around the world, creating the
arbitration by the Court in a maritime dispute with the Philippines.
space for discussions and exchanges that are rare but increasingly
Capt. Tian disputed the question, answering that “not accepting
important for understanding the state and direction of world affairs.
arbitration is itself a legal choice,” and that few states accept
Capt. Tian’s talk on the South China Sea was just one example
such rulings from the Court. More important, he said, were the
from a year of similar moments, but it is certain to reshape how the
thousands of small daily actions in the South China Sea. “Settlement
Scholars present view the conflict and the evolution of Chinese and
of dispute is only one part of the UN Convention on the Law of
international diplomacy on flashpoints around the world.
25 | Yenching Review
Questioning settled dogmas
What really happened in Turkey on 15th of June?
oup attempt that took place in Turkey has been suppressed. According to the first reports, hundreds of
people including soldiers, civilians and policemen were left dead in clashes and thousands are currently under arrest. To no surprise, this unexpected event took over headlines all over the world. People are naturally wondering what is going on in Turkey, which used to be known as one of the most stable countries in the West Asia. However, most foreign media organizations are far from analyzing the blurred sitution properly. Most authors just repeat some old fashioned clichés, among some of the most common ones are: “secular army vs. Islamist government.” Since Turkish President Erdoğan is as a devoted Islamist, some people interpreted the coup as a ‘secular’ resistance to his rule. This claim is at the same time quite contradictory. Turkish army is not ipso facto secular and it is not an homogenous actor today. On the contrary, many cliques exist within the army itself. In the early 2000s, most secular high-ranking military officials in Turkey rapidly radicalized once they realized that the priorities of the US and Turkey in West Asia were different. Some secular/Kemalist1 officials even organized public conferences and suggested quitting NATO and establishing closer ties with China, Russia and Iran. All these ‘radical’ people were liquidated with utterly nonsense plots, such as Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz) organized by an Islamist-cum-pro-West coalition in 2007 among the US’ and EU’s screams of joy. So-called “Ergenekon” and “Sledgehammer” trials 1 Kemalism: Jacobin-like modernist principles set forth by the leader of Turkish War of Independence and Republican Revolution of 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, based on fundamental pillars symbolized by “Six Arrows”, namely, secularism/laicism, étatism (state intervention in economy), populism (popular sovereignty), revolutionism, nationalism (non-expansionist, non-xenophobic anti-imperialism), republicanism.
Onurcan Ülker, Turkey Yenching Academy
based on trumpery and mostly fabricated “evidences,��� through
which systematic violation of human rights was normalized, senior ranks in the army were reshuffled, and the real counter-
guerrilla/“deep state” -strictly linked to various political Islamist movements as well- was wightwashed with sleight of hand in Turkey, were hailed by European Commission as “an opportunity
for Turkey to strenghten confidence in the proper functioning of its democratic institutions and the rule of law” (EC, Turkey 2010
Progress Report), and as the Wikileaks documents revealed, there
was a close contact between US Embassy in Turkey and Turkish law
enforcement authorities actively taking part in operations to purge seculars/Kemalists especially in the beginning stages.
At that time, the Gulenist religious cult played a siginificant
role in the campaign against secular/Kemalist military officials and helped Erdoğan government to consolidate power. Leader of the Gulenist cult, Fethullah Gulen, is a former cleric who has
been living in the US for 17 years. The cult had excessive financial
resources and many well-educated members who occupied critical positions in hierarchy. With the help of these people, Erdoğan was able to deal with his secular opponents in the military. Thousands of active and retired military officials were arrested by Gulenist
judges, active ones were dismissed from their posts and replaced
by Gulenist personnel. However, ‘the love story’ of Erdoğan and
the Gulenist cult dramatically ended by late 2013, after the Gezi Park uprising, which gathered together approximately 13 million people who clashed with the police on the streets for almost three
months, and shook the governing coalition to its foundation. Former partners started to accuse each other due to instability.
Opinions | 26
Once Gulenist policemen exposed telephone tapes of Erdoğan and
posing a problem for the US government. As of last year, some
revealed a corruption scandal, an open war between the two sides
other problems were added to this picture. After a long time, in
began. The Army, police and jurisdiction were no longer under the
2015, the Turkish army started a comprehensive military campaign
control of seculars andthis time Erdoğan’s new Islamist enemies,
against PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), a Kurdish nationalist
Gulenists, were quite influential over them. Since then Erdoğan
armed group. However, the Syrian branch of this separatist
has been trying to detach the Gulenists away from the army and
organization is the closest ally of the US against both ISIS and
buraucracy. Many of his former Gulenist allies have been arrested
Assad government in Syria; as of last year, Obama, as cited by a
and some of them fled to the US. To cut a long story short, the
number of media outlets such as Al Jazeera, CNN, Washington
recent coup attempt was mainly organized not by secular military
Post to name some, called Kurdish nationalist militants “allies
officials, but rather remnants of the Gulenist cult in the army.
of the US on the ground”. Therefore, US mass media has been criticizing Erdoğan harshly due to military operations against this
The Gulenist cult is known as one of the closest allies of the
group too. Moreover, shortly before the coup attempt, Erdoğan also
US in Turkey. The US authorities have been turning a deaf ear to
apoligized to Putin for the first time after the Turkish army downed
the Turkish government’s demands to extradite Fethullah Gulen.
a Russian jet at the Syrian border and negotiations between two
Therefore, Erdoğan’s hostility towards the Gulenists has been
countries started again. Erdoğan’s Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım,
27 | Yenching Review
意见 implicitly touched upon a possible normalization with the Assad
Today, Erdoğan tries to turn this crisis into an opportunity
government in Syria and reestablishment of diplomatic relations
by establishing a unique ‘Presidential system’, in which he will be
concurrently. Of course, this U-turn was not welcomed by the US.
the indisputable authority. At this stage, nobody knows whether
Due to these tensions, when the coup attempt came to the fore,
numerically few but very determined radical elements from among
US Secretary of State John Kerry did not condemn self-proclaimed
the anti-coup protesters, who tried to lynch some surrendered
junta; rather, he chose to wish stability and peace for Turkey
soldiers, whipped them in the public and vandalized streets will
rigorously. Influential retired US lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters
be used to achive this goal through suppression of the opposition
explicitly hailed the coup as “the last chance for Turkey to avoid
in the future. While there’s no wonder that the precise defeat
an authoritarian regime.” In a similar vein, Lawrence Wilkerson,
of the coup is for the benefit of the vast majority of the society,
former chief-of-staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, also
still, Turkey’s future is full of uncertainty. Will Russia, China and
argued that CIA Director John Brennan “undoubtedly played some
Iran, who were stabbed from the back several times by Erdoğan
role” in the coup attempt. Not surprisingly, coupists declared their
in regard to Libya, Syria and Xinjiang Uyghur conflicts, accept
loyalty to NATO in their first statement as well.
this untrustable government as a partner in case of a paradigmatic geostrategic shift? Or will the US and the Western camp be
Of course, Erdoğan and his Islamist gang are not consistent
persuaded that Erdoğan understood who is the “boss”, especially
‘anti-imperialists.’ Due to massive privatization under their rule,
after his recent statement that “everyting goes on in accordance
today, Western monopoly capital controls almost all sectors of
with the principles of free market and will continue so,” and give
the Turkish economy. Neoliberal transformation in agriculture,
him another chance by following Friedrich Hayek’s argument that “a
which the Erdoğan regime led throuhout the 2000s, demolished
liberal dictator” is more preferable than a “democratic government
the agriculture sector which used to provide employment to
lacking liberalism”? At this stage, only one can be said in certain:
millions and was quite profitable in Turkey. Today the Turkish
it is quite difficult to make predictions in stormy times.
economy depends on hot money flows from the West. Due to this, Erdoğan could easily start to act more compatibly with the
This article was submitted shortly after failed coup attempt took place in Turkey
US/NATO agenda, again making another U-turn. A hint of such action is th reopening the airspace of İncirlik, the most important US military base in Turkey, after it was temporarily shut down by the government as a reaction to US right after the defeat of the coup attempt. However, it still remains questionable whether the US will be easily convinced by such small compromises. Pragmatic craftiness of Erdoğan and the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) might trick some domestic political actors easily, but not the US. John Kerry’s statement came even after Turkey reopened İncirlik airspace, in which he explicitly argued that Turkey might be removed from NATO, clearly showing that the US wants Erdoğan to surrender completely, but even surrender might not rescue the no longer credible Erdoğan.
Opinions | 28
An Examination of the Themes Shared by H. P. Lovecraft and Lu Xun.
Honey Watson, UK, Yenching Academy
u Xun and H. P. Lovecraft, born in the summers of 1881
displayed self-consciousness as authors in responding to criticisms
and 1890 respectively, wrote posthumously celebrated
within the framework of a story or essay. Beyond these stylistic
short works of fiction during the same unstable period in global
similarities, there seems at first glance to be little more to say. If we
history. One American and one Chinese, these authors would come
were to imagine each author on a sliding scale of what constitutes
to represent the literature of their home nations in not entirely
‘fiction’, the Gothic, demonic horrors of Lovecraft would be as
unproblematic senses. Lovecraft’s image, despite the deep racism
far away from the modernist super-realities of Lu Xun as possible.
ingrained into the author’s work, is idolised in statuette as the
However, in a spherical world it is possible to grow so far apart that
World Fantasy Award, a signpost of the US’s remarkable ability
we meet at the other side.
to forgive its historical figures of great intellectual discrepancies.
As I hope to show, the two authors shared not only stylistic
Meanwhile, Lu Xun, while more of a household name than
similarities, but also deep recurring themes. Both men are obsessed
Lovecraft, gained his fame from his support of the May 4th
with memory, science, myth, fear and madness. The difference
movement, and the thorough criticism of Chinese traditional
in the outcomes of each of their considerations of these topics is
values and culture which that involved.
invaluably illuminating with regards to the intellectual attitudes
An explanation, even perhaps a justification, is warranted for
of their respective societies towards modernity or progress. This
my choice to juxtapose such different authors. Both were writers
is especially poignant when one also considers the similarity of
of short fiction who regularly utilised first-person narrators and
each of their lives. Besides their shared methods and themes, both were born into families at the time of its loss of prominence, both
1 Criticism of the award by China Mieville can be found at http:// www.tor.com/2014/08/20/should-the-world-fantasy-award-be-changed/ 2 Qian Liqun (Literature Department, Peking University), HOW TO TREAT THE TRADITION FROM CONFUCIUS TO LU XUN, Reading Li Ling’s Stray Dog: My Reading of the Analects, 15 July 2007
29 | Yenching Review
trained in science before moving to literature, both challenged literary conventions and both were, ultimately, miserable. Writing from either side of a gulf of cultural understanding, and with no awareness of each other, both of these authors’ works
of fiction can nevertheless be used to throw light, and sometimes in
apocalyptic sea giants, malevolent gods of chaos and insidious time
doing so darken shadows, on the other.
demons are bent into almost unrecognisable caricatures of reality. Due to this bizarre, grotesque element his writing has slid largely
Memory and Fear
under the radar of serious academic literary criticism. Unlike contemporaneous Gothic authors, Lovecraft made very little effort
t is taken for granted by commentators on the subject that
to ease his readership into unreality besides the use of diary-formats
trends in ‘horror’ movies can be used to explore cultural
and first person, self-loathing narrators who acknowledge the
anxieties - for example the irradiated monsters that appeared on screens during the Cold War, or the rise of ‘zombies’ linked to 3
unlikelihood of their experiences. Lu Xun exists at the opposite end of the spectrum. Indeed,
anonymous consumerism in the 2000s. The same can be said of
it would be problematic of me to describe his fiction as ‘Gothic’ at
Western Gothic fiction. The pervading themes of subversion and
all, risking the appropriation of a Chinese author into a Western
scientific inquiry (or the subversion of scientific inquiry) found
genre. However, in this section I will be discussing the resemblance
in popular titles such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The
in the ways in which the two men invoked horror in their
Haunting of Hill House reflected fears about the dramatically
audiences, commenting on the similarities and stylistic differences
changing ethical mentality of society at the turn of the 20th
in their techniques which provide valuable insight into the differing
cultural and individual mentalities of these writers.
Lovecraft’s fame, and indeed his obscurity, comes from his stretching of this socially reflective genre to its absolute limit. His
––––––––– The primary ingredient in Lovecraft’s concoction of fear is memory.4 Almost all of his short stories contain one or more
3 A brief discussion of trends in horror by Noel Murray can be found at http://www.avclub.com/article/babadook-it-follows-and-new-ageunbeatable-horror-227172
4 H. P. Lovecraft, Necronomicon;, the best weird tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Edited and with an Afterword
Academics | 30
references to the primary character’s power of recollection, not for
suicide by painting the memory which causes him so much pain
fear of the content of the memory but of the power to remember
he cannot live; ‘I must have forgetfulness or death’. The character’s
itself. To take some examples from four separate stories of the
story is a maddening experience following his escape from a
Necronomicon; ‘I must have forgetfulness or death’; ‘my memory is
German sea-raider vessel - in his solitude, he enters a state of real
broken… I was deeply disturbed’; ‘I developed amnesia… the loss
un-reality in which he encounters vast stretches of impossible,
of five years… astonished and disturbed me’ and; ‘my memory is
desolate landscape stalked by hellish amphibian creatures, and their
curious and indistinct...’.5 In each of these stories, the protagonist
is plagued by a memory which they are desperate to erase, or in the penultimate case to recall – but with devastating effects.
This is clearly an extreme form of escapism. ‘Extreme’ both in the sense that the content is extremely divorced from reality, and
The concept of unforgettable, disturbing or disturbed memory
that the subject of the narrative is a desire for an escape from the
is also found in abundance in Lu Xun’s work. To take four examples
escapist content. To put it simply, the memory to be forgotten is
from Diary of a Madman and Other Stories; ‘the trouble is that I
obviously fantasy. However, its fantastical nature does not mitigate
have not been able to forget’; ‘I cannot forget even today’; ‘this was
its metaphorical value. Lovecraft’s protagonist, as modern he is
not the countryside I had recalled’; ‘do you blame me for being so
as a battleship soldier, is terrorized and followed by members of
different to the old Lu Weifu who lives in your memory’. Lu Xun’s
‘some tribe whose last descendent had perished eras before the first
protagonists too are each unsettled by their memories, the content
ancestor of the Piltdown or the Neanderthal man was born’.8 This is
of which either disturbing reality through strangeness or suffering.
clearly playing on the anxieties of a culture whose increasing global
Both authors thus build a disturbing sense of being haunted
dominance is bringing it into contact with incomprehensible,
or trapped by the contents of their characters’ own minds; a sinister
apparently primordial and violently un-modern societies which
subtext tying together the ‘physical’ topic of the individual story –
could not be controlled – a feeling most clearly illustrated in
be it an encounter with an old friend, or a visit to an underwater
contemporaneous travel journals from Sierra Leone or Brazil.9 The
civilisation commanded by gigantic immortal aquatic devils.
protagonist’s experience of the world is thus so far divorced from
However, as that contrast suggests, the natures of the memories
the reality of the modern West’s understanding of space that he
which form the ominous white noise lying behind each author’s
turns to morphine, and ultimately suicide.10
text are entirely different.
In Mourning the Dead, Lu Xun’s narrator also escapes fantasy
In order to conduct a deeper analysis of the difference in
with death. The death in this case is not his own, but that of his
each author’s conduct of the theme of ‘memory’, I have selected
lover, Zijun. Zijun, although a rational, corporeal thing, serves
one story from each which I have found to be most representative.
a similar function to that of Lovecraft’s amphibian demons. In
From Lu Xun, Mourning the Dead, and from Lovecraft, Dagon.
fact, it is her very rationality that allows them to play the same
The format of these two stories is the same; the scribbled diary
role. Juansheng too is haunted by a fantasy, but his is a fantasy of
of a man in a fraught emotional state, which begins and ends with
modernity as opposed to his Lovecraftian counterpart’s extreme
death. In Dagon, the protagonist’s purpose is to justify his narcotic 5 Lovecraft; Dagon, 5; The Music of Erich Zann, 58; The Shadow out of Time, 561; The Statement of Randolph Carter, 10. 6 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, Translated by William A. Lyell, University of Hawaii Press 1990; Preface, 21; An Unimportant Affair, 67; Hometown, 89; Upstairs in a Wineshop, 248.
31 | Yenching Review
7 Lovecraft, Dagon in Necronomicon, p6. 8 = 9 Rankin F. Harrison, The white man’s grave; a visit to Sierra Leone in 1834 available online courtesy of Oxford University 10 Or murder, if one is inclined to take Lovecraft literally.
Lu Xun (1881-1936)
Academics | 32
primordialism. If we treat Ziijun in the same metaphorical way
for the inhabitants of their newly violent world to perform an
as we treat Dagon’s race, we can view Lu Xun’s story as a tale not
act of cultural violence in severing from classical modes of social
of lovers or death but of hyper-realism, anti-escapism perhaps
describable only in oxymoronic terms such as a ‘realist fantasy’.
Even more surprisingly, it is fair to say that Lu Xun employs
With Zijun’s death, the lid is closed on the couple’s
the same technique in doing so. Juansheng, like the desolate sailor,
unconventional relationship. Living together unmarried, and
ironically references Western authors in both his appropriation of
spouting feminist ideas stolen from the mouths of Western authors,
feminist ideas, and the dismissal of his lover. Shelley’s image clipped
the pair are doomed by traditionalist China’s refusal to embrace the
from a magazine is as inane and out of place on Juansheng’s wall
modernity it encounters as it reaches across the globe. The same
as the sailor’s reference to Poe in the presence of a lost God. While
socio-cultural anxieties as espoused in Dagon are thus represented
Lovecraft demonstrates the inability of the Western mind to bear
here, but from the other side of the looking-glass.
seemingly irrational or ‘imaginary’ foreign horrors, Lu Xun explores
This dreamlike quality also adds an element of surrealism
how ill-equipped Chinese society is to adapt to foreign ideas.
to each story. Juansheng’s portrait of his lover is unclear, a pool
Conclusively, one can see that Lu Xun and H. P. Lovecraft
disturbed by the droplets of his own expectations – the reality
used the same techniques of memory and surrealism to provide
of her personality glimpsed only in the micro-seconds in which
social criticism, invoke horror, and coax their reader into embracing
the narrator loses track of it himself. She enters the narrative not
a new literary style.
as a complete character but only ever through a single sense at a time. Her footsteps, her expression, her voice; they are never quite drawn together but scattered in a cubist’s impression of femininity. Lovecraft’s sailor’s recollections are similarly distorted by the mention of narcotic influence, and disjointed allusions to other
s is common in the literary world, each of the authors here began their adult lives in a scientific career path.
works of fiction from Paradise Lost to the Odyssey. The character’s
Lu Xun’s humanitarianism shows in his initial choice to train as a
desperate grasp for points upon which to focus his nightmare
medical doctor, whereas Lovecraft’s cosmological whimsy is evident
memory further disturb it in their disjointedness; a comment on
in his brief occupation as an astronomer. Science left its stain on
how Western understanding is incapable of dealing with the non-
each of their literary works, and in nothing else is the gulf between
their cultures more apparent.
Moreover, these references demonstrate a surprising invocation
A scientific quality happens to be perhaps the most fascinating
of literary modernism in Lovecraft’s work. Though he refers to
trait of Gothic literature, one usually lost under the umbrella
classic works of literature, he does so in the context of a reality so
subheading of ‘subversion’. This peculiarity is that of mixing
warped that it warps them with it; these works are transformed
scientific enquiry with grotesque, supernatural impossibilities in
from authoritative points of cultural reference to meaningless
such a way that the two are mutually indistinguishable. Subversive
snippets of useless information. Even great fantasies have no
indeed, yet the habit requires its own exploration in light of the
match for the horrors of this modern un-reality; the knowledge
historical context of the emergence of the genre. The turn of the
that ‘nameless things… may rise above the billows to drag down
century saw an increase in socio-scientific debate concerning the
in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted
matter of ‘race’ following Darwin, the development of arms that
mankind’. Lovecraft thus demonstrates the same awareness as Lu
would destroy millions, the use of unwilling bodies for medical
Xun for the necessity of a new means of understanding; a need
33 | Yenching Review
学术 progress;11 in short, science was being weaponized against humanity
Diary of a Madman.14 The driving idea being that the Chinese are
both figuratively and physically on a global scale.
backward, constrained by their culture.
Lovecraft’s awareness of the horrors of scientific exploitation
To this effect, Lu Xun employs the Gothic technique of
on the grounds of the misappropriation of Darwinist theory is
blending horror with science. In Medicine, a young boy is fed the
both apparent and multifaceted. In the story Herbert West –
blood of an executed prisoner in an attempt to cure himself of
Lovecraft plays on contemporary fears of man’s
consumption. Blood is spilled in order to protect the country from
power over life by exploring Dr. West’s morbid infatuation with the
revolution, and it is used in a futile subversion of death to sustain
desire to reanimate a corpse. In this story, the mentality necessary
life. Chinese Traditional Medicine is thus portrayed as a dangerous,
for the development of Social Darwinist ideas rears its ugly head for
useless relic of the past which prevents scientific progress – or
the first – yet regrettably not the last – time in the Necronomicon.
at least the search for effective medicine. However, what is most
West’s reanimation serum is ineffective on the peasant bodies he
horrifying about this story is not necessarily the image of the
steals, because they do not have the same capacity for ‘reason’ that
young boy swigging blood, nor his death, but the absence of the
a man of letters possesses. More disturbingly, when the character
supernatural. Lu Xun’s narrative ends with a chance encounter
attempts to reanimate an ‘African’ man, Lovecraft writes that he
between the mothers of the executed man and the sick boy at their
was a ‘monstrosity’, with ‘forearms so large [he] could not help
sons’ graves. The former entreats the spirit of her son to reveal
but think of them as forelegs’. The animalization of the African
itself to her by having a nearby crow perch on his grave as a sign.
coupled with the insinuations that poorer people are less capable
Indifferent, not even defiant, the crow flies into the distance with
of rational thought than the doctor and his companion point
a single caw.15 Nature itself mocks the ancient Chinese belief in
damningly to the conclusion that Lovecraft was an advocate of
spirits and the afterlife. Gothic technique without Gothic essence –
Social Darwinism, and that he had been taken in by the discourses
Lu Xun has his own brand of horror, characterized by metaphysical
on racial development that saturated his Imperialist society.
Lu Xun stands on the other side of the discourse of racial
In Medicine and Reanimator, each author explores man’s
dominance which emerged in Darwin’s wake. He was a member of
desire to elongate life - the crucial difference between the stories lies
one of the ‘races’ whose features and histories were being assessed
in the result of this desire. For Lovecraft, the disturbing element
by Western scientific authors who assumed genetic superiority. One
is that the science works. Dr. West is kidnapped and presumably
of these commentators, Arthur Smith, left a particular impression
killed by the bestial product of his empiricist medicine; a horde of
upon Lu Xun with his 1894 work Chinese Characteristics, in
silent, vengeful bodies. Lu Xun’s horror, on the other hand, comes
which Smith made sweeping generalizations about the Chinese
not from success but failure. Traditional Chinese Medicine fails
based on his personal experiences as a missionary in China. James
to save a life, a failed revolution results in mass executions; the
Pusey makes a compelling case in Lu Xun and Evolution that Lu
crow fails to show signs of the supernatural. Both narratives end
Xun’s reading of Smith inspired the sentiment ‘we can change’ in
in gloomy, silent hopelessness. Reanimator’s narrator is doomed to live in a world alongside undead monsters, where man’s scientific
11 Kenny, Stephen, How Black Slaves were Routinely sold as ‘Specimens’ to White Doctors’, Health and Medicine ILF Science 2015 available online
progress ironically and subversively gives his most archaic desires for violence, revenge, and immortality corporeal and malevolent
12 Lovecraft, Herbert West – Reanimator, p34 -57.
14 Pusey, James, Lu Xun and Social Darwinism available online
15 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, p58.
Academics | 34
form. The convict’s mother meanwhile must live alone in a world
and subverted it yet again. He invokes a call to the supernatural,
where monstrous acts of violence fail to serve their purpose, either
to the grotesque and extremely Gothic image of the consumption
to protect the country or her son.
of human blood, but ultimately strips it of anything enchanted.
Juxtaposing the darkness in these works thus illuminates a
Lovecraft uses monsters to create a fearful mirage of his society,
social reading in each. Lovecraft’s monsters, not supernatural but
while Lu Xun sets the stage for their arrival but in the end leaves
unreal, serve as comment on the monstrous capability of science,
humanity unadorned; alone to cope with itself.
whereas Lu Xun’s hyperrealism draws crushing attention to the
Each author draws horror from cultural self-reflection, their
murderous danger of China’s unwillingness to embrace the same
methods defined by a dialogue of racial, cultural and scientific
empiricist reality. Lu Xun has taken the spirit of the relationship
dominance sweeping from the West.
between the supernatural and the scientific in Gothic Literature
35 | Yenching Review
学术 Madness Madness, in its wild, untameable words, proclaims its own meaning; in its chimeras, it utters its secret truth.16
n the 21st Century, the concept of ‘madness’ is inseparable from Foucault’s historical masterpiece on the subject,
Madness and Civilisation. In his assessment of how madness was treated throughout the ages, he argues that during the Renaissance, the insane were portrayed as if they possessed a special wisdom about the nature of society. To be ‘insane’ was to blur the distinction between what men are by nature, and what men are by convention. Gothic Literature, in its Romance, saw a resurgence in this idea. Epitomised by Stoker’s Renfield,17 the zoophagus obsessed with the consumption of life, a Gothic ‘lunatic’ is a discomforting statuette of contemporary society. Lovecraft and Lu Xun both use madness in Foucault’s Renaissance or Gothic sense to provide a commentary on large societal issues. Fascinatingly, they both also summon their characters’ demons by the medium of their inheritance. Even more compellingly, in Diary of a Madman and The Rats in the Walls, each author brings the reader directly into the madman’s thrall by placing us in their mind.18 19 In each of these narratives, the author uses a first person perspective so that the reader must directly follow the character’s descent into insanity. The overarching message of Lu Xun’s madman is ‘we can change’.20 Deeply paranoid, the character is convinced that his brother and friends are trying to murder, butcher, and eat him. He is clearly haunted by the same thing which causes the reader so much horror in Medicine – the Chinese historical habit of 16 Foucault, Michel, Madness and Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the
consuming human blood and flesh in times of sickness or famine. This character’s ‘madness’ manifests as a desire to ‘save the children’ from their brutal cultural inheritance. His paranoia is a heightened sense of how his national history and habits are preventing the development of rationality. Lovecraft’s madmen exhibit a similar awareness of an archaic monstrosity lurking on the periphery of modern society. In The Rats in the Walls, our protagonist is an upstanding gentleman on a quest to refurbish a stately old mansion – only to discover that it is built on a mass human grave of his own ancestors’ making.21 The haunted house is perhaps the most common of Gothic tropes, but if we read this story in the same way we have already read Lu Xun, we can bring new dimensions to Lovecraft’s subterranean sepulchre. Lying dormant beneath our Gothic mansion lies a relic of the old world. An altar to Cybele, the Magna Mater whose worship was brought into Rome from Phrygia in 204BC. The initiation process into her sanctuary has been horrifying men for two millennia – he must castrate himself in order to enjoy the Goddess’ favour. Lovecraft takes this knowledge and turns it, rather strangely but also delightfully for the purpose of my comparison with Lu Xun, into an act of cannibalism.22 The protagonist of this tale finds himself compelled, upon coming into contact with her ancestral relic, to attack and attempt to consume his companions. Reading this in light of Diary of a Madman, we can understand the tomb not just to be a tool of horror but a symbol of the bestial element of human nature which, while being suppressed or in this case literally built over by modernity, will always have some degree of power over the rational, cultivated, modern mind. Elsewhere in the Necronomicon, Lovecraft employs similar ideas, but with an even greater contrast to Lu Xun’s realism. In The Music of Eric Zann and The Shadow out of Time, a university
Age of Reason, Translated by Richard Howard, London and New York, Tavistock
physicist and a professor of economics respectively are witness to
primordial, supernatural beings or worlds that exist outside the
17 Stoker, Bram, Dracula, Penguin Group (USA), Ch.XI p202. 18 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, p41. 19 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon p90.
21 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon, p103.
20 Refer to previous sections
22 Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls in Necronomicon, p104.
Academics | 36
control of modern understanding.23
In the former, the eccentric
brutal displays of madness and the supernatural to provide social
and speechless character Zann plays the viola ‘to make a noise,
critique. Lu Xun, while using many of the same techniques as we
to ward something off – what, I could not imagine, awesome
find in the Gothic style, discards this decoration in exchange for the
though I felt it to be’. The musician, not possessing the faculty of
realist experiences of homeless, illiterate women. In one instance,
speech which would allow him to participate in normal society,
he pre-empts the most touching scene in Orwell’s 1945 Animal
nevertheless dedicates himself to protecting it from the impossible
Farm when he puts us in the mind of a bereaved peasant woman
terrors that lurk beyond his window.
who lacks the vocabulary to express her grief. Articulating her mind
Eric Zann’s music thus introduces the idea of skill or intellect
without articulation, the author’s writing validates the suffering of
into the development of madness. In the early 20th Century,
those without the skill to read it. The scene from Animal Farm I
mental illnesses such as depression and other related personality
am referring to is that in which Clover overlooks her home in post-
disorders were understood in Western psychology to belong to
revolutionary misery in silence – a silence formed not of choice
the highest orders of white male society – needing a complex
but her inability to articulate complex emotional thoughts.28 The
emotional and intellectual psyche to take hold.25 Indeed, we see
similarity here thus allows us to identify this interest in the peasant
this mentality in The Shadow out of Time when the main character
class as a revolutionary quality in Lu Xun. Like Orwell, he has seen
is possessed by a primeval demon who seeks to use him as a vessel
revolutions come and fail. Unlike Lovecraft, the Chinese author has
with which to study and learn. His emotional disturbance is met
an awareness of the hardship of the working classes, of the validity
with sympathy and measured kindness – contrast this with the
of their emotions, and of the social structures that keep them
‘Italian peasant woman’ in Reanimator who, insane at the loss of
her child, is instead coldly described as ‘hysterical’. Madness, in
Comparing each author’s construct of ‘madness’ reveals that,
Lovecraft’s work, is characterised by an awareness of or contact
while they both use a Foucauldian model of insanity to magnify
with the corporealised demons that haunt modernity – a trait that
the relics of viciousness which threaten the modern world, Lu Xun
requires a sophisticated level of intellect.
does so with a heightened sense of realism not only with relation to
It is this quality of Lovecraft’s that, when mirrored back onto
the way the madness manifests itself,29 but to the part of society to
Lu Xun, reveals the heightened social awareness of the latter. The
be assessed. It is a credit to the revolutionary environment in which
Chinese author’s interest in society is not restricted to its highest
Lu Xun was writing that he, unlike his American contemporary,
echelons. In fact, many of his stories focus on the emotional
showed interest in the minds of those usually silenced by history
complexities of not only men in the lowest strata of society (i.e.
- poor women. From the other angle, treating Lovecraft’s haunted
the illiterate and animalistic Ah-Q, or the unfortunate Kong-Yiji)27
house with the same degree of literary respect with which we have
but also of women. Gothic fiction relies on fictitious, flamboyant,
learned to credit Lu Xun, we can understand the building not just as a Gothic normality but as a commentary on contemporary fears
23 Lovecraft, Music of Eric Zann in Necronomicon, p58.
of human nature.
24 Lovecraft, Shadow out of time in Necronomicon, p555. 25 Prior, Pauline M., Gender and Mental Health, The British Journal of Psychiatry (Sep. 2000), p43. 26 Lovecraft, Herbert West – Reanimator in Necronomicon, p45. 27 Lu Xun, Diary of a Madman, stories of Kong Yiji pp.42-48 and Ah-Q pp.101-172.
37 | Yenching Review
28 Orwell, George, Animal Farm, Secker and Warburg (1945), Ch.7. 29 There are no demons or Gods in Lu Xun’s madness, just history.
o draw to a close, I have argued that by contrasting two of the world’s most prolific yet strikingly different
authors, one can reveal an abundance of similarities in style, and even content, which broaden our understanding of each writer’s cultural mentality and literary technique. The most striking results of this comparative assessment have been, firstly, the clear use of Gothic themes such as scientific subversion, the supernatural, death and horror by Lu Xun. Contrasting Lu Xun’s ‘Gothic’ with Lovecraft’s Gothic exposes the lack of anything supernatural or unreal in Lu Xun’s work; revealing a great deal about what each author found frightening, Fear, one of the most primitive, reactionary of emotions, can always be used to read society’s reflective anxieties. The lack of monsters in Diary of a Madman, and their contrasting omnipresence in the Necronomicon, teaches the reader that while the 19th Century
Bibliography Dunham, George F. (1853), Journal of George Dunham, 1853 available online courtesy of Rice, Texas at https://scholarship.rice. edu/jsp/xml/1911/9247/1/aa00026.tei.html Foucault, Michel (1987), Madness and Civilisation: A History of
American psyche was haunted by the beasts it feared future
Insanity in the Age of Reason, Translated by Richard Howard, London
scientific progress could conjure, the Chinese were held by fear of
and New York, Tavistock.
the spirits of the past. Secondly, the contrast in the way Lu Xun and Lovecraft assess the mentalities of their characters with regards to psychology and madness is revealing of the revolutionary quality in Lu Xun. While his essays explicitly reveal his socio-political intent, reading Lu
Kenny, Stephen (2015), How Black Slaves were Routinely sold as ‘Specimens’ to White Doctors’, Health and Medicine ILF Science 2015, available online at http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine Lovecraft, H.P., (2008), Necronomicon;, the best weird tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Edited and with an Afterword by Stephen Jones, Gollancz London.
Xun’s fiction next to Lovecraft’s shows the reader how while the
Lu, Xun and William A. Lyell (1990), Diary of a Madman and
latter was – in keeping with an Western Imperialistic mentality –
Other Stories, Translated by William A. Lyell, University of Hawaii Press.
interested solely in the psyches of the literati, the former undertook an assessment of the whole of society, highlighting the fears and sorrows of those without words to do so themselves. Lastly, this juxtaposition also allows us to conduct a more
Orwell, George (1945), Animal Farm, Secker and Warburg. Prior, Pauline M. (2000), Gender and Mental Health, The British Journal of Psychiatry. Pusey, James (1998), Lu Xun and Social Darwinism, SUNY Press. Qian, Liqun (2007), (Literature Department, Peking University),
sophisticated analysis of Lovecraft’s Gothic monoliths; he is equally as
How to Treat the Tradition from Confucius to Lu Xun, Reading Li
interested in providing social commentary and criticism as Lu Xun –
Ling’s Stray Dog: My Reading of the Analects, found online at http://
just from the opposite side of the 20th Century dominance discourse.
His use of zombies, haunted houses, werewolves and ghosts should, instead of being treated as a whole contributing towards the fantasy horror genre, be taken apart separately and analysed as what they are – grotesque embodiments of social anxieties.
Webpage/Stray%20Dog.htm Rankin F. Harrison (1834), The white man’s grave; a visit to Sierra Leone in 1834 available online courtesy of Oxford University at https:// archive.org/details/whitemansgravea02rankgoog; Stoker, Bram (2003), Dracula, Penguin Classics.
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Editorial Dear Readers,
It is my immense pleasure to present the second issue of the Yenching Review. There have been quite a few changes that we decided to make this time over, new sections were added and improvements made to the already existing ones. In fact, overall, it seems to be a completely new publication altogether. Hardly surprising, as with a new team come new ideas and I am very excited what changes the Review will see when the whole editorial team is replaced this year with our new scholars. After the first issue was published, we have received many comments, Anastasiia Ilina, Russia
suggestions and questions for which we are grateful and we hope that
Editor in Chief
our readers will continue to guide our work in the future. I would like to especially thank students from outside of the Academy, who have
contributed their writing or by participating in the Photo Contest. We look forward to working closely with all departments and programs of PKU and cannot emphasize enough that before being Yenching scholars, we are Peking University students and wish to work together on such projects in the future. I would like to thank all the editors and contributing writers for their hard work this semester. We look forward to greeting new writers and welcoming back members of the old team. Finally, I am sincerely happy on behalf of the Yenching Review team to present you with the second edition of our publication. Although it seems that hardly any time has passed, indeed it has been less than a year, it is already time to call this the last issue for the first cohort of the Yenching scholars, as we pass the project on to the new students. Editor-in-chief and fellow scholar:
39 | Yenching Review
Joanna De Smedt, Belgium
Ricarda Brosch, Germany
Maya Cypris, Israel
Julien Legrand, France
Nothando Khumalo, Swaziland
Chen Qiqi, China
Ani Grigoryan, Armenia
Fu Duanling, China
Nicola Angeli, Italy
Naoya Matsumoto, Japan
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