Sociology As Social Memory: Narrative Identity and Knowledge Construction in the Study of "Chinese Modernization" in Cold War Taiwan

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:50 PM
Room: Booth 49
Oral Presentation
A-chin HSIAU , Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
Man is a story-telling animal and sociologists are not an exception. Sociological works are often more informed by historical narratives that function as particular forms of collective memory than sociologists would have admitted. My article aims to show how sociology may be a major agent of collective memory and identity formation by analyzing the sociological study of “Chinese modernization,” especially the case of Kwan-hai Lung (1906-1983) as one of the major founders of sociology, in Cold War Taiwan. The study of Chinese modernization in social sciences in general and in sociology in particular were promoted mainly by scholars of Chinese Mainlander background who exiled to Taiwan, where the Japanese colonial rule just ended, after 1949 owing to the Chinese Communist Party’s victory in China’s civil war. These scholars dominated Taiwan’s social sciences in the Cold War era up to the 1980s. The Mainlander sociologists in exile were haunted with the bitter memory not only of their displacement, but of modern China’s cultural trauma caused by foreign oppression. Embracing Chinese nationalism and the modernization theory imported mainly form the U.S., they hoped that China could become a rich and powerful nation by modernizing itself. By integrating the metanarrative of global and Chinese modernization and the metanarrative of Cold War into their sociological works, they became a major story-teller who endeavored to narrate post-colonial Taiwan back into relationship with the Chinese nation. As an important source of public narratives, the sociological study of Chinese modernization helped in the construction of collective memory and national identity in Cold War Taiwan. Situated in the context of the political and cultural inequality between the Mainlanders and the local Taiwanese, however, their historical narrative and their study of Chinese modernization per se were ready to be co-opted into the ruling ideology of the Chinese Nationalist Party.