Leftist Print Culture and New Notions of “Chineseness”: Hu Yuzhi, Shanghai Book Co., and Overseas Chinese Youth in Cold War Southeast Asia

Feb 8 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

Xu Lanjun (Associate Professor of Chinese Studies, the National University of Singapore; Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute)
Chair/discussant: David Wang (Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Leftist culture in Hong Kong and Malaya was different from the simply defined propaganda work of Communist China. This talk will focus on the cultural activities of the well-known leftist intellectual Hu Yuzhi (1896-1986) in the “Nanyang” during the 1940s, as well as the development of the Singapore-based Shanghai Book Company with which Hu maintained a close relationship until his death. This study will particularly emphasize how Hu and his Leftist friends tried to make cultural connections with the local younger generation, by analyzing the youth weekly Fengxia which he initiated during his stay in Singapore in the 1940s. The talk will also explain how he used Shanghai Book Co. to influence the publication of local textbooks for Chinese schools and popular novels on how to guide the young generation’s thoughts and lives in Southeast Asia.  This raises the question of how ideologically motivated transregional cultural networks and the propagandistic use of youth cultures shaped the development of indigenous Sinophone cultures in this region.