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In League with Gentlemen: Junzi Masculinity and the Chinese Nation in Cultural Nationalist Discourses

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Asia Pacific Perspectives
Issue number1
Volume15
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The reintroduction of capitalism in post-Mao China has spurred the emergence of the “new junzi”: professionals and businessmen who justify their quest for material wealth by reinterpreting Confucianism as an ethical system compatible with doing business. Junzi masculinity has been further boosted by the proliferation of Confucian ideas on television, in books, online, and “national studies” courses. With a focus on junzi masculinity in texts and subjectivity, this paper examines recently published major works on the junzi by public intellectuals and the ways in which professional Chinese men negotiate the junzi ideal in a context of increasing globalisation and marketisation. Drawing on the concept of cultural nationalism, I argue that the promotion of the junzi ideal is a form of identity-making that seeks to legitimise a moralised view of national culture. In particular, I argue that the masculine figure of the junzi has become a touchstone in the educated elite’s cultural nationalist reimaginings of China. This paper demonstrates that highly educated Chinese men are reworking the figure of the junzi in a quest to shape cultural nationalist discourses in their gender and class interests; yet this approach raises the risk of inciting racialized nationalism.