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Academic Symposiums


IAS convenes 1 or 2 symposiums every week on a regular basis. A residential fellow, or an IAS scholar of other types, or an external scholar, is invited to give a keynote speech, aimed to facilitate cross-disciplinary exchanges among scholars, broaden academic horizons, and improve research quality.  




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The New Culture Movement, also known as China’s Enlightenment Movement, was launched over a century ago. However, the intellectual dilemma between consciousness of civilization and consciousness of culture in the country remains. XU Jilin, a renowned scholar on Chinese history of ideas, who had been studying the topic for over a decade, delivered a lecture at ZJU-IAS on October 11.


Professor XU distinguished “civilization” from “culture” arguing that “civilization” is a product of all human beings while “culture” belongs to nationalities. As Napoleon’s invasion sparkled the consciousness of nationalism in Germany, China also faced unprecedented civilization crisis upon the Opium War where it ran into an opponent, namely the West, who was both strong in military and economic power and advanced in civilization.




Professor XU looked back on important historic impetus behind the origin of China’s consciousness of civilization and consciousness of culture and analyzed the evolution of Chinese schools of thoughts. The years from 1895 to 1925 represents the “Transition Era” when China firstly shifted its focus from western material prosperity to their underlying values and ethics as nationalism gave its way to the consciousness of civilization after The New Culture Movement. And the second phase of the era took place gradually after World War I as China’s intellectual circle was awakened to the consciousness of China’s own culture. However Chinese scholars have been ever since divided over choosing subjectivity between culture and civilization. Two questions concerning the dilemma remain contested today: first, how to internalize “good” civilization into “our” culture which Chinese people can identify with? Second, how to enhance “our” culture to universal civilization which can apply to human being as a whole? China is still on its way to reconstruct its cultural subjectivity. “Only if China integrates the subjectivities of culture and civilization, will it be able to find a way out of the intellectual dilemma and enhance its self-confidence as a responsible country to deepen its significant influence upon global affairs once again.”  Professor XU said.



Learn more on previous academic symposiums

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