The global forces that are reconfiguring our world continue to sustain
formulations of nation, gender, class, and ethnicity. We propose to call
into question these still-­ p ressing yet unstable categories by crossing
academic boundaries and rethinking the terms of our analyses. These
efforts, we hope, will contribute toward informed discussion both in
and outside the academy.
—“positions Statement of Purpose”
Hostility to theory usually means an opposition to other people’s theo-
ries and an oblivion of one’s own.
—Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction
During a recent meeting of a search committee for a job in
the department of East Asian studies, I quietly voiced my dis-
pleasure about my colleagues’ enthusiasm for one candidate
and their neglect of another one, in my opinion much more
interesting. I was then amiably chastised by one senior col-
league who half-­ jokingly reminded me of the reality of the
field. Yes, the latter candidate was more ambitious, broader in
the perspective adopted, and the research touched on several
different themes, but that was risky. The preferred candidate
instead showed the ability to mine the archive of choice and
minutely dissect the unearthed material within a definite
e p i l o g u e
The Destinies of “China” in the 1980s and 1990s
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