Working Paper 104
Transforming Traditions into Resources: Pains and Gains of Chinese Scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Published December 2023

The asymmetrical global higher education and knowledge systems ordered by Euro–American hegemony have been increasingly interrogated, especially by scholars in the humanities and social sciences (HSS). With gathering awareness, more and more HSS scholars from non-Western backgrounds have called for global intellectual pluriversality. Responding to such a trend, this article sheds new light on the current conditions of non-Euro–American intellectual traditions by taking Chinese intellectual traditions as a case. Since the mid-nineteenth century, generations of Chinese intellectuals have strived to transform their intellectual traditions into modern resources. This historical mission has been carried on by contemporary scholars with further complexities in the current global era. By unpacking the real perceptions and recent experiences of Chinese HSS scholars, this study demonstrates that Chinese intellectual traditions still guide today’s knowledge production and have been transformed into three kinds of academic resources: approaches, methodologies/paradigms, and theories. However, the transformation process has never been smooth. Domestically, the great endeavours of Chinese HSS scholars are often impeded by dominant intellectual extraversion and coercive audit culture; internationally, they feel constrained by the English barrier and epistemic injustice. This article proposes an empirical approach to examining and presenting intellectual traditions in individual experiences. It reveals the pains and gains of non-Western HSS scholars to navigate through asymmetrical globalisation and the high complexities of achieving intellectual pluriversality.