Journal of Romance studies

Humanities research in China: new horizons

Journal of Romance studies (2011), 11, (2), 1–19.

Abstract

This article aims to provide an overview of research carried out in China during the past fifteen years. Looking back on research into the humanities in China, we have many reasons to be satisfied with the turn of events. The period of darkness that marked the whole of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), during which all research was banned in the domain of the humanities, is over. In spite of this, the humanities have not yet become an integral part of Chinese scientific research, and are far from being so, in fact. The reasons for falling behind are analysed, particularly in comparison with the formidable leap forward that has taken place in the natural sciences and life sciences. A panorama of the different principal sectors of research in the humanities is given, namely, language and writing, philosophy and religion, literature and arts (mainly painting). This panorama leads to the following conclusion: In the domain of the humanities and social sciences, which have hardly been priorities in the politics of Chinese research in recent years, the themes most in evidence have remained centred on the Chinese world of research. If Chinese researchers in humanities wish to occupy the place which is theirs in the whole system of Chinese research, they will have to carry out research on non-Chinese worlds. From this angle, there is still much to be done.

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Peyraube, Alain