Social Imaginaries

Volume 2, Issue 1, Spring 2016

Guanjun Wu
Pages 71-94

The Lacanian Imaginary and Modern Chinese Intellectuality

Jacques Lacan’s theorization of the imaginary has been regarded generally as an organic part of the crucial development of psychoanalytic theory in its post-Freudian stage. This article situates the Lacanian imaginary in the context of contemporary discussions of ‘theory after poststructuralism’, arguing that it moves radically beyond the poststructuralist terrains of deconstruction and discourse-analysis, and is able to off er new insights on various studies. Especially, it can help (re)examine some aporias in the field of Sinology. This article devotes its main body to demonstrating that the Lacanian account of the imaginary is powerful in exploring the assumptions and expectations of modern Sinophone intellectual discourse. Deconstructive discourse-analysis alone is insufficient for understanding the underlying forces that have been fundamentally shaping the contours of modern Chinese intellectuality, and attention needs to be paid to the psychological dimension of Chinese thought. With the aim of tracing and interrogating these underlying forces, this article seeks to show how the fervor for discussing the ‘problem of China’ reveals a hidden psychical mechanism.