Interdisciplinary Research Seminar by Dr Kenneth Yung, November 28, 2023
Interdisciplinary Research Seminar
Marginalized Intellectuals in Hong Kong in the 1950s: A Study of the Democratic Socialists in the British Colony
Dr. Kenneth Yung
Hong Kong University Press
The University of Hong Kong
Date & Time: November 28, 2023 | 12:00-1:00 pm (HKT) / November 27, 2023 | 8:00-9:00 pm (PST)
Venue: Lecture Hal, G/F, May Hall, HKU
Sandwiches and light refreshments will be served for those attending the seminar in person. Please register for in-person attendance or via Zoom at: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JxOLRFpVSYq5H7Aj5oWxeA
On the eve of the Communist Revolution in 1949, a large number of Chinese intellectuals fled the Chinese mainland, never to return. Many of them traveled to Taiwan and continued their quest for Chinese democracy on the island. They were also fascinated by the recent global anti-utopian Cold War currents. For this reason, democratic socialism was marginalized on the island. Instead, its adherents relocated to Hong Kong. This paper looks at the Hong Kong-based democratic socialists and examines their political thought as presented in their publications. Tracing the history of Chinese intellectuals in twentieth-century China, I argue that these democratic socialists were marginalized by two trends of radicalisation. On the one hand, the domination of communism after 1949 made the moderate democratic socialists unable to survive in the Chinese mainland. On the other hand, the arrival of anti-utopian Cold War currents from the West in Taiwan made these democratic socialists uneasy to express their views there. Compared to the communists in Mainland China and the extreme anti-utopian liberals on Taiwan, these democratic socialists were marginalised and stood on the fringe of the Chinese intellectual circle. They had no place to stay but in Hong Kong where a certain degree of freedom of expression was guaranteed by the British colonial government. Hence, most of the publications about democratic socialism mushroomed in the colony. Although the democratic socialists could hardly make a breakthrough in this school of thought, they were still keen to defend their belief against the hostile communists and anti-utopian liberals. They were also able to find the New Confucians as their allies in Hong Kong. Finally, this paper will discuss the legacy of these democratic socialists in the contemporary era.
About the Speaker
Kenneth Yung is an affiliate member in the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is also an acquisitions editor of Hong Kong University Press. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He is a historian in modern Chinese intellectual history and postwar Hong Kong. His latest monograph, entitled Chinese Émigré Intellectuals and Their Quest for Liberal Values in the Cold War, 1949–1969 (Brill, 2021) examines the liberal tradition of self-exiled intellectuals in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the early Cold War era. He is now writing a second monograph that examines the diaspora of Chinese intellectuals via Hong Kong to the Asia-Pacific region in the 1950s and 1960s. He has published articles in various journals such as Twentieth-century China, Journal of Chinese Studies and Journal of Chinese Overseas, and book chapters in Palgrave Macmillan and Springer.
About the Series
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