Agony over national-imperial identity : interpreting the coloniality of the Chinese New Left

Iam Chong IP

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


European thought, rather than an overarching ideology imposed on the colonized, offers a concatenation of keywords and narratives for people to imagine their national community, yet, sometimes serving as political prison for the others, especially those internal and neighboring ones. Henceforth, coloniality does not reside merely in European or US domination but also in multiple relationships and scalar dynamics of the non-European context. In this article, I analyze the discourse of the Chinese New Left, who repudiate the West and affirm a new Chinese sovereign power, thereby resonating with concerns and orientations originating in the new world situation that puts China back in the global power center. I argue that their discourse, despite its left-wing rhetoric, is an expression of agony over national–imperial identity rather than of the powerless. It has found favor among academic conservatives who render ancient Chinese imperial concepts into conceptual tools available for the state to consolidate its legitimacy and political order. A new Chinese sovereign power is discursively envisioned in the co-formations and interconnectivity of the imperial imaginaries of the short-lived German Empire, Pax Americana, and the legacy of Qing Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
JournalCultural Dynamics
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Chinese New Left
  • coloniality
  • inter-imperiality
  • national identity
  • sovereign power


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