culture fever

culture fever
(wenhua re)
The term refers to the intellectual and cultural movement in the 1980s. This movement aroused great interest and enthusiasm among intellectuals on various cultural issues. It also reached a larger audience beyond academic institutes and college campuses, and had very wide repercussions in society. It is therefore called a fever over culture. Basically an urban phenomenon, the so-called fever emerged around 1984 when economic reforms in urban China entered a critical moment.
The situation was deemed necessary for new thinking to break the spell of ossified official ideology and also for structural measures to further and deepen the reform. Intellectuals, especially young ones, were very eager to make a breakthrough in theoretical thinking, to influence public opinion and social mentality, and to help move the reform forward. Cultural issues occupied intellectual debates because intellectuals generally agreed that problems encountered in the reform were deep-rooted in China’s cultural tradition. The discussion on Chinese culture and its role in modernization dominated intellectual debate from 1984 and ended in 1989 due to the sudden change of political climate. During this period, quite a few research institutes and societies for cultural studies were established, most of them semi-official or unofficial, many conferences for cultural discussion were convened, and numerous scholarly works on cultural issues were published. The movement secured some official support and sponsorship, but it was nevertheless the first independent intellectual movement since 1949. It introduced and encouraged new ideas and theories, opened people’s minds, promoted freedom in thinking and research, fostered an independent spirit among intellectuals, and also furthered liberalization in academic and cultural life.
See also: Li Zehou; Liu Zaifu

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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