Raising the Issue
Nearly three decades ago, Benjamin Schwartz questioned the categorizing
of Chinese intellectuals as either traditional or modern: "If tradition cannot
be reduced to a simple integrated system, what can we say of modernity?
Since our focus here is on intellectuals, we must be interested in modernity
not merely as descriptive of certain processes of action but also as embodied
in certain modes of thought and sensibility."!
If we take Schwartz's statement that (Chinese) modernity is to be under-
stood "also as embodied in certain modes of thought and sensibility" and if we
recognize that his focus is on Chinese intellectuals, the next question we can
ask is this: In what ways can we also see that Chinese intellectuals embody
Chinese modernity?2 That is, besides understanding Chinese modernity as
"certain modes of thought and senSibility," in what ways can we also under-
stand it as simultaneously expressed through the bodies of the intellectuals
that mediate those "modes of thought and sensibility"? And in what ways
does the gender of these bodies figure in all of this?3
By way of the word "body," I hope to draw attention to what Schwartz's
passage assumes and what remains invisible within it: the role played by Chi-
nese (male) intellectuals' gendered position in the formation of and quest for
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