Nativism and Modernity

Cultural Contestations in China and Taiwan under Global Capitalism

By Ming-yan Lai

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies
Paperback : 9780791472866, 242 pages, January 2009
Hardcover : 9780791472859, 242 pages, January 2008

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Table of contents


Introduction: Interrogating (through) the Native

1. Of Alter/Natives, Margins and Post/Modernity at the Rim

2. Beneath the Claims of Native Soil: Class, Nation, Gender, and Xiangtu Nativism in Taiwan

3. Beyond the Reach of Roots: Marginality, Masculinity, and Xungen Nativism in the People’s Republic of China

4. Gendering Natives, Engendering Alternatives

Postscript: Place-based Politics in China and Taiwan Today


Comparative study of contemporary nativist literary and cultural movements in China and Taiwan.


Nativism and Modernity is the first comparative study of xiangtu nativism in Taiwan and xungen nativism in China. It offers a new critical perspective on these two important literary and cultural movements in contemporary Chinese contexts and shows how nativism can be a vital form of place-based oppositional practice under global capitalism. While nativism has often been viewed in nostalgic terms, Ming-yan Lai instead focuses on the structural implications of nativist oppositional claims and their transformations of marginality into alternative discursive spaces and practices. Through contextual analysis and close readings of key texts, Lai addresses interdisciplinary issues of modernity and critically explores the two nativist discourses' various engagements with power relations covering a multitude of social differentiations, including nation, class, gender, and ethnicity.

Ming-yan Lai is Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


"Nativism and Modernity rescues nativism from the usual charges of nationalism and regionalism (while making careful distinctions between the terms), and explicates its many promises and limits in a judicious manner. The book makes an important contribution to the study of nativism and will go a long way in dispelling simplistic misconceptions of the intellectual and literary formation known as nativism. " — Shu-mei Shih, author of The Lure of the Modern: Writing Modernism in Semicolonial China, 1917–1937