China Studies Academic Seminar: From Mao to Confucius



From Mao to Confucius: China’s Overseas Cultural Promotion andDe-territorialized Nationalism


Dr Tracey Fallon
Lecturer/Assistant Professor, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (SCCS)
Senior Tutor SCCS, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China


States now more than ever communicate their national “narratives” to both international and domestic audiences. Within the outward articulations of official national identity, state language and cultural overseas promotions constitute a channel for the de-territorialised reproduction of nationalism. This paper considers how ‘official’ culture contributes to the persistence of nations by examining the relationship between state cultural promotion overseas and the reproduction of official national identity and nationalism discourses through the case of China’s Mandarin education for non-Chinese. The Chinese state considers the international education of Mandarin as an important way of “telling China’s story” and challenging the dominance of “western” cultural influence and power. Employing discourse analysis to examine four decades of Mandarin textbooks for non-Chinese language learners published in the PRC from the 1970s to the 21st century, this paper asks how China is represented in each decade. This reveals the changes and continuities in the official “imaginary” of the Chinese nation and through which the learners are to recognise and understand China and Chinese culture. At a time when increasing numbers move to learn Mandarin, language textbooks transnationally reproduce the Chinese state’s imaginaries of the Chinese nation.

Dr Tracey Fallon is lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo. Tracey’s research interests are in the convergences between culture and politics of contemporary China. She completed her PhD thesis “Nationalism, National Identity and Politics in the Teaching of Chinese as a Foreign Language" at The University of Nottingham, UK. This research explores the transnational reproduction of China’s official national identity by examining four decades of Mandarin textbooks for foreign learners from the late pre-reform era to the present-day. Employing discourse analysis, it traces how Chinese people, China, and its relationship to the world is articulated to the sympathetic foreigner and the significance of China’s international promotion of Mandarin for its foreign propaganda. She teaches courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on the making of modern China in the Late Qing and Republican era; intersections in ideology, culture and society of contemporary China; and research techniques for the study of contemporary China.

Prior to undertaking her doctorate, Tracey worked for many years in education, teaching within FE and HE and project managing international programmes between China and the UK as well as support of interdisciplinary research activities. She holds a MA (Hons) in History of Art from the
University of Glasgow, a Masters in Chinese Studies from the University of Edinburgh, and a PGCE in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Bolton. Tracey has extensive experience in China, working and studying in many different parts of the country.