State,Free Will,and Historical Determination:The Tripartite Tensions in Chinese Nationalism,1900-11
This paper illustrates two contended theories of nationalism emerging in late imperial China when the state was undergoing a dramatic transformation. Zhang Binglin (1869-1936), an idiosyncratic traditionalist and revolutionary, developed the theory of Han-Centrism, which emphasized the historical-ethnographical predetermination of Chinese nation. His theory delivered a Herderian critique of state and imperialism, understudied in scholarship on nationalism. His opponent, Kang Youwei (1858-1927) and Liang Qichao (1873-1929), endorsed the constitutional reforms. They developed a theory of political nationalism, which bore the Weberian insights on state priority. The contention of these two theories show the concatenation of three key principles of nationalism, i.e. free will, state, and historical determination, in the Chinese context. By elucidating the tripartite tensions, my study questions the moral dichotomy underlining the binary models of civic and ethnic nationalism, which prevail in sociology in explaining the divergent paths of nationalism.
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