4 Responses

  1. Thane

    Not sure I agree entirely with the conclusions you draw from Crane’s article, mate.

    Early on, you wrote:
    “… the majority of Americans, and numerous other countries’ peoples, do not know a great deal about China’s diversity, multifaceted history, culture and everyday viewpoints. Thus, when we are still coming solely from our own perspectives it is difficult to understand China.”

    Which I agree with, wholeheartedly, and I think was one of the main points of Crane’s article; that exterior knowledge, on its own, is insufficient as a foundation for building an understanding of a culture.

    However, later on, you disagree with Crane’s idea that the “larger problem is the limitations on knowledge within China itself”. I understand your argument to be that Crane is over-emphasising the importance of a lack of knowledge within Chinese culture about China, whereas you believe the problem lies with a lack of knowledge about Chinese culture outside China. I think that argument runs into problems in a practical sense: if primary sources of information (government reports, representations of opinion from people within China, etc) are suppressed or not made available by the Chinese government, then there is little/nothing for outsiders to interpret, which forces them to consider Chinese culture and politics overwhelmingly from within the parameters of their own culture.

    In that case, could it not be that while outsiders would like to have better knowledge of China in order to produce more reasoned interpretations of the country and her politics, in many cases they have little choice. For that reason, I think Crane makes the stronger argument: that neither interior nor exterior knowledge are enough by themselves, but of the two, interior knowledge starts the process.

    Interested to hear what you think.


  2. jinnafeng

    Not sure if you’ve talked about this with any Chinese people. But the “simple American” notion is an acknowleged fact among Chinese who have lived in any English-speaking countries.

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