How should we go about interpreting, reading, and understanding “China” as a social text, in the face of persistent Orientalism and self-Orientalism, in an age when the ghosts of socialism are still all around us? Given its semicolonial history and its passage through communist and capitalist visions of modernity, China cannot be studied in isolation, as a preexisting thing in itself. Instead of reducing it to a preconstituted object of knowledge, we must ask how China, and the objects in relation to which it exists, have come into being, and how they become stabilized discursively.

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