Confucian cultural education on the Chinese periphery: Hong Kong's New Asia College, 1949-1976

Chou, Grace Ai-Ling
Kwok, Daniel WY
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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In 1949, a group of anti-communist Confucian intellectuals left mainland China and established a New Asia College in Hong Kong. This school was to represent a re-creation of the traditional Chinese academy, the shuyuan of Sung and Ming times. The founders believed that, by actualizing the curricular content, structural form, and educational principles of the Confucian shuyuan, the core of Chinese culture could be effectively promoted and preserved. Preservation was of paramount importance, for they believed that the eventual revival of Chinese culture on the Chinese mainland depended upon their keeping it alive in the Hong Kong periphery during the tenure of communist control in China. The purity of the Confucian shuyuan vision, however, proved difficult to maintain, for the requirements of the British colonial government's educational policies, the anti-communist orientation of American funding organizations, and the market needs of the industrializing port of Hong Kong combined to make the Confucian character of New Asia ever more complex and ambiguous. This matrix of contending interests meant that increasingly New Asia, which was itself established as a living cultural symbol, became a site of contesting symbolic representations and interpretations of the meaning of Confucian educational values for modern Chinese people. Face with such contestation, New Asia's determined fidelity to the shuyuan ideal ended in an ironic competition over conceptions of Chinese culture that would transform the New Asia dream into both much more and much less than its founders originally envisioned. This dissertation examines New Asia College as a case study in cultural education. By tracing the history of the college from its founding in 1949 to its incorporation into The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1963, this study analyzes how New Asia sought to enact its mission and educational philosophy. The ultimate subsuming of New Asia's program in 1976 under the University's centralization scheme, and the broader notions Chinese education that implied, reveals not only the cultural predicament of New Asia's founders but the complexity of the Hong Kong environment in which they sought they revive and promote Chinese culture.
viii, 323 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). History; no. 4381
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