Science, democracy, and the politics of identity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


In China’s 1989 protest movement, students self-consciously identified themselves with the May Fourth Movement of 1919. They repeated the old slogan, “science and democracy,” echoing not just the May Fourth but the “New Culture” Movement of the late 1910s and 1920s generally. On May 4, 1989, for example, Wuer Kaixi read to the handful of the massive Tiananmen Square crowd who could hear him a “New May 4th Manifesto”: Fellow students, fellow countrymen, the future and fate of the Chinese nation are intimately linked to each of our hearts. This student movement has but one goal, that is, to facilitate the process of modernization by raising high the banners of democrac)' and science, by liberating people from the constraints of feudal ideology, and by promoting freedom, human rights, and rule by law.” History repeated itself, Wuer arid other students seemed to be saying. Sometimes there was a hint of farce: “Science and Democracy” T-shirts were sold in Tiananmen Square. However, as other contributors to this volume-such as Schwarcz (Chapter 8) and Wasserstrom (Chapter 13)-emphasize, the 1989 events were not a repetition of 1919, nor was there a simple continuity between the two protest movements. But this does not mean that the link is spurious. The link is an identity claim, a call by the 1989 student protesters for recognition alongside those of 1919, for recognition at once as modernizers and patriots, serious intellectuals, and democrats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPopular Protest and Political Culture in Modern China
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780429963377
ISBN (Print)9780813320434
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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