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Modern Chinese Nationalism


Admission requirements


In light of Benedict Anderson’s theory of nationalism and Arif Dirlik’s notion of “self-orientalization”, this course is designed to introduce the main themes in modern Chinese nationalism; to explore the construction of modern national identity in terms of symbols such as Yellow Emperor, the Great Wall, Sick Man and Yellow Peril; to analyze the significance and impact of the “victimization narrative ” of modern Chinese history; and to give students a rounded perspective on the complicated relationship between collective memory and modern Chinese national identity. .

Course objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:
1. Know more about the scholarship (in English and Chinese) regarding the study of modern Chinese nationalism and discourses of Chinese national identity.
2. Have a better understanding of how various traditional and foreign symbols/images were appropriated by nationalist discourses in the construction of modern Chinese national identity.
3. Assess and analyze the significance of historical memory and consciousness in modern Chinese nationalism since the late Qing period.
4. Redefine the complicated relationship between traditional and modern China, especially with respect to the development of nationalism and patriotism.
5. Rethink the ambiguous role played by the West as an important “Other” in the “victimization narrative” of modern Chinese history.

Mode of instruction

Choose from: Lecture, Tutorial, Individual study of source materials, Excursion, Work placement, Other:

Assessment method

Two written and one oral assignment (40%) and a term paper (2500-3000 words) (60%)

NB. It is not possible to write a BA-thesis with this course!

Reading list

Will be announced at the start of the course.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Prof. Yang