Why does Tianxia Need the Nation-State?

April 23, 2019 - 4:00pm

Tianxia talk has always targeted the modern nation-state system as the stumbling block to the peace and unity of the world. Yet thrust into the international jungle of clashing nation-states, modern China must engage the Western national model. In the wake of the fall of the Qing Empire, reformers and revolutionaries devoted themselves to building a modern nation-state in order to survive as a polity and culture. Liang Qichao, Sun Yatsen, and Mao Zedong were nationalist thinkers, but in the process of nation building they harbored on the side a tianxia vision beyond the nation-state. Dr. Wang will focus and elaborate on how nationalist thinkers and writers invested in nationbuilding as a necessary means of realizing the cosmopolitan or internationalist vision a la tianxia.


Ban Wang is the William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies in East Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature at Stanford University, and was the Yangtze River Scholar at East China Normal University. His major publications include The Sublime Figure of History (Stanford UP, 1997), Illuminations from the Past (Stanford UP, 2004), and History and Memory (Lishi yu jiyi) (Oxford UP, 2004). He has just completed a book entitled China in the World. He is now working on a book on the aesthetics and politics of ecology in modern Chinese literature
and film. He is currently a research fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities and
the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton.

Location and Address

Gold Room, University Club 
123 University Place