“Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity” (Chinese: 当代中国的思想状况与现代性问题) is an influential article of around 35,000 characters in length by Chinese intellectual historian and literary scholar Wang Hui, written in 1994 and published in left-wing literature journal Tianya (天涯) in 1997.[1] An English translation by Rebecca E. Karl appeared in a volume of Social Text titled “Intellectual Politics in Post-Tiananmen China” (1998).

The article became the subject of intense debate and attention both for its methodology—an unusually socio-historical approach to intellectual history—and its expressed politics, which are critical of capitalist modernity.[1] According to academic Yue Gang, it is “a cornerstone in the transformation of contemporary Chinese thought” and “has become a benchmark for the New Left.”[2]


  1. Zhang Yongle. “No Forbidden Zone in Reading? Dushu and the Chinese Intelligentsia.” New Left Review 49 (January/February 2008), 5-26.
  2. Yue Gang. “Wang Hui.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Ed. Edward L. Davis. London: Routledge, 2005.

See also

  • Wang Hui. “Dangdai Zhongguo de Sixiang Zhuangkuang yu Xiandaixing Wenti” [“Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity“]. Tianya 5 (1997).
  • Wang Hui, tr. Rebecca E. Karl. “Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity.” Social Text 55: Intellectual Politics in Post-Tiananmen China (1998): pp. 9–44.

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