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Equality, modernity, and gender in chinese nationalism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is about the place of equality in modernity, generally speaking, and about the way equality entered into orthodox ethics and everyday life in modern China. Basically, it sketches some of the phases through which the radical ideas of a small intellectual elite contributed to a broad social imaginary of modernity founded on the principle of equality. A further aim of the chapter is to test some of the implications of this modernist imaginary for premodern notions of identity, status, and sentiment. The egalitarian ethic facilitates new kinds of categorical identities in place of relational identities, which in turn imply new forms of representational conventions and institutions. While gender is not central to every point in this analysis, the argument has implications for the emergence of gender as a significant category of the modern Chinese state and society.

Keywords: egalitarian ethic; gender; modern China; social equality



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