Julia Kristeva


Julia Kristeva, vidéoconférence pour Nankin, 10 juin 2012

au colloque Le féminisme et la Chine, Nanjing University 南京大学

réalisation : G.K. Galabov & Sophie Zhang (60 min)




My encounters with Chinese women

Julia Kristeva


translated by Violaine Morin



Sophie Zhang : Julia Kristeva, before talking about feminism and China, I would like to remind everyone of your early interest in this country, namely your Chinese language studies, your visit to China in 1974, your book About Chinese women and your recent visit in 2009. You created an "International Simone de Beauvoir Prize for women's freedom", and awarded it to two Chinese women in 2010.


Julia Kristeva : Yes, thank you for reminding us of this short - and already long - story. I first want to give my regards to all the women - and the men! I suppose there might be some - who participate in this conference "China and feminism", hosted by Nanjing University, and to all of those who helped organizing this virtual encounter.

But, as you said, my encounter with China is nothing virtual. My first steps on this continent were indeed in May 1974. We were, I think, the first delegation of intellectuals from the western world to visit China after its entry into the United Nations. I was with Philippe Sollers, Roland Barthes, François Wahl and Marcelin Pleynet. In those days, our Chinese friends called us the "Tel Quel comrades".

I would like to specify something very important to me, regarding how we regard any interest for China in the western world. It was often said that we - but it might be the case for others  - were fervent supporters of a certain ideology that was in force at that time. I think it is more complicated than that. Me and I believe my friends and colleagues, who were part of this delegation were profoundly intrigued by Chinese civilization as well as by the political changes that were occurring at that time, and I am still intrigued by them now. To have a better understanding of the Chinese phenomenon, the historical phenomenon we were going through, I had enrolled in for four years in a Chinese language class in the Université Paris-VII, in which I still teach today. I was also a very committed reader of a famous encyclopedia that I recommend to all, although those taking part in the conference might know it already. It was the encyclopedia written by the British Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China. I was therefore curious about answering at least two questions I'm still preoccupied with, and I think those are situated in the basis of your debates in this conference.

The first of those questions is: if Chinese communism is different from the western versions of communism and socialism, how did cultural tradition and national history contributed to form this enigmatic Chinese voice? My first question is about the relationship of China to its past.

The second question is more directly orientated towards the theme of your conference. It is about how the conception of sexual difference in China, that is to say the male/female split, but also the use of language and writing, the questions of causality, of divinity, of the individual, and - as we'll see later on in the second part of my conference - the conception of body and soul, et cætera, formed a specific human subjectivity that is different from the one formed in the Greek, Jewish and Christian traditions. My point is not to create a hierarchy of civilizations as some do nowadays by saying, "this is good and that is not", but only to state the differences. If such a difference exists, how these subjective experiences (male/female, language/writing) can be encountered and how can we connect with them? In other words:  is there a fundamental opposition between us? Are  these antagonisms? On the contrary, if these differences are co-existing, how can we create a universal humanity built up on the basis of this difference?

As one may notice, all those questions that interested me at that time are not easy. I wasn't able to answer them during my visit that later on became a book, About Chinese women, recently translated into Chinese by my friend, Professor Gao from Tongji University. Then I drifted away from Sinology, and right now I speak to you as a semiologist, a psychoanalyst and a writer. The experience of maternity, the practice of psychoanalysis drove me elsewhere, but that place is not far away from your debates. I am going to come back to the questions I asked myself in 1974 from that point.

You are correct to underline that this interest for China immediately linked my feminism with the questioning of the female condition in China throughout its history. It is because of that and in that specific context that we created the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's freedom. It was created on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the author of The Second Sex, the great text that opens a new age of feminism in the world. We gave this prize to women who come from what we call "emerging powers". First, the prize was given to women from the Arab-Muslim world, in which the female condition is rather problematic, controlled by a very strong patriarchal and feudal influence. When they claim their freedom, a lot of members of this female continent find themselves mistreated, if not threatened to death, by the well-known charia, the Islamic law. In the context of emerging countries, Chinese women, on the other hand, have a very different fate: they have a legislation that entitles them to their freedom. Even though this legislation is not always applied, Chinese women fight for a better acknowledgment of it. Chinese feminism raises another question, and the point is not to create  Chinese feminism, but to support it, to develop it, and to benefit from mutual enrichment.

The prize was given to two women:

Mrs Guo Jianmei is a lawyer. She is the leader of an NGO, The Women's Legal Research and Service Center. This NGO tries to defend concrete cases, to promote change in the legislative system, to improve the condition of women in China. She fights domestic violence, discriminations at work and sexual harassment. She pushes for reforms on the land ownership in rural areas.

Next to her, there is another woman who fights for women's rights. Her way is different, complementary and to a certain extent more radical: Mrs Ai Xiaoming, professor in the department of Chinese language and literature and director of the comparative literature section in Sun Yat-Sen University of Guangzhou. As an addition to her own academic research on the condition of women and her teaching of history of feminism in addition to her women's rights activism and her defense of immigrant workers, she's also known in China and abroad as a documentary film-maker.


In your book About Chinese women, you noticed the modernity of the condition of women in China at the beginning of the 20th century. Do you think women's emancipation that followed the May Fourth Movement in 1919, and was then encouraged by Mao Tse-tung, was a fundamental start from which the difference between western feminism and Chinese feminism grew?


Julia Kristeva: It's a very interesting point. I can address two different aspects of this question. I would like to go back to a part of my book About Chinese women, in which I strongly focused on women's rights movements that occurred in the 20th century carried along by the Republic Revolution and the Communist Revolution. I think those movements are rooted in a much more ancient Chinese culture. It dates back to the mythical tradition, let's say the "anthropological tradition", with its tales and rituals made out of a mix of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. I will come back to this aspect at the end of my conference.

I would like to focus on the modernity of the 20th century. The emancipation movements of the Republic and then of Communism, attacking the archaisms of society, must have had to deal with the influence of family, the role of the father as compared to the woman,  sexual freedom and individual freedom. Those revolutions marked an evolution of freedom and legislation, mostly regarding women's rights that are rather special and maybe unique. In any case, this evolution is not well-known in the West. Maybe they are not known enough even in China itself.

I will start with evoking a name that made a great impression on me when I did this research on the achievements of the Republic Revolution and the Communist Revolution in terms of women's rights. This name is Qiu Jin, a hero of women's emancipation, who died in 1907 and who was described by Sun Yat-sen as a "hero among women". I would like to quote a sentence that I found in one of her posthumously published poems, Fighting for the power of women. Here is what she says:


"Let the sky give equal power to men and women,

How can we live when we are less than cattle,

We will rise up and fly, yes, we will pull ourselves upwards."


This was written in 1907 and it needs to read again and again for all the women who are still unaware of this in the emerging powers. We know - it's beautiful, "We will pull ourselves upwards" - that her daughter, who was raised in the United States, became the first Chinese female pilot. Let's keep this Chinese feminism in mind, because it is the first step of the modernity I want to talk about.

It starts at the very beginning of the Republic of China, established in 1912, under the influence of Suffragettes movements in the West, but also influenced by the fight against feudal and patriarchal society. This movement for women's rights, or women's suffrage movement, had the mission of supporting the republic and promoting gender equality. This promotion was made through different organizations, including the Shanghai Friendly Society for Women's suffrage, the Rearguard Society for Women's Suffrage, the Militant Society for Women, the Women Alliance, the Women Society for Freedom, The Women Citizens Society... It is incredible to historically witness the proliferation of such feminist groups. They gathered in Nanjing on the 29th of February in 1912 to form an alliance and to coordinate the movement. They exposed most of the goals that would be reintroduced later by the May Fourth Movement. Among those goals were - I will say that again so that the entire world hears it, because again, people are not enough aware of this early rise of Chinese feminism - gender equality of rights, higher education for women, abolishment of polygamy and women's trading, freedom in marriage, change in family traditions, and so on. All of these are extremely important, and it is true that those movements surrendered to the agenda of the upper class. They failed to emancipate and to become purely feminist movements. But they gave strength to the upper class movement for global change in society, even though they didn't become specifically female movements. Of course, despites their existence, the provisional constitution voted on the 11th of May 1912 didn’t mention this guarantee of gender equality. It was clear that a lot of resistance from men would prevent this emergence.

The other thing that strikes me - and I would like it to be written in memories as something spectacular - is the burst of anger of those feminists and suffragettes. When they understood that their demands would not be granted, they broke into the room were the assembly was sitting, they broke the windows while jostling the guards. The Chinese and western public were stunned. Everyone was shocked. It is something important that we will always need to be aware of.

From this period, I would like to underline something that was first brought to my attention by a great feminist from the sixties, Roxane Witke: the nine articles written by Mao Tse-tung on women's condition and specifically on women's suicide. It's interesting because it shows to what extent the legislation is not only a matter of change at the surface of society, but that it rises from a true concern of the individual fate, the condition of the person, even though this individual dimension doesn't always show. Why? Because we know Mao himself suffered during his childhood from a father who was a common Confucian farmer and who wanted to force him at the age of 13 into an arranged marriage. To protest against this situation, Mao attempted to commit suicide, or at least he threatened to commit suicide. We also know that, after leaving the family house, he married a few years later Yang Kaihui, the daughter of Mao's philosophy professor Yang Changji at a secondary school in Changsha. Yang Changji was a liberal, a fervent supporter of the May Fourth Movement ideas. He had written an article that had drawn attention on the reform of the family institution in China. He opposed to the Chinese family the British family, and committed himself into changing the reactionary and repressive system of the patriarchal family. Mao was rather impressed by this movement in Chinese upper class, and he created a New People's Study Society (Xinmin Xuehui) with his friends in 1917. The society wanted to fight prostitution, concubinage and abuses from the domestic power. There was a true mobilization around the idea that reforming women's condition was a prerequisite to the reform of society itself. The reason why I'm particularly interested in this movement is that in order to give support to women in this fight for change in society and family, they created programs of study in France. They wanted to send young Chinese women to study in France, and they did. And it was the case of one of the founders' sister, who became the first president of the Chinese Women's Union after the Liberation. There is therefore a strong continuity from the suffragettes' movement to the nationalist movement and the women who emancipated themselves within this circle of influence and then the young Mao's works on suicide, and the aftermath of the New Marriage Law that was formed starting from the 30's.

In 1974, when we went to China, it was the time of the Great Step Forward: people's discussions, but also articles in the press focused less on the suppression of the family system - which was the case of this previous Maoist anarchism - than on the creation of a new democratic family structure. So the concern about organizing the family structure and acknowledging the legal rights of the women's work force was very important. It was about remunerating the worker and the housewife, and about supporting women so that they would work their way up to executive positions. At the same time, the opinion would regret that it was not the case. All of that shows how much everyone including the State power was committed into the promotion of women, trying to fight previous resistance inherited from the patriarchal hierarchy. From now on, policies would promote economical, financial and educational equality between men and women, resulting in the creation of new female figures who would have all possible powers.

This process is absolutely fascinating, and a great part of the western feminism would see itself in this egalitarianism. But one might ask: in that context, don't we lose the sexual difference and an existing Chinese tradition carried throughout history in daily life, in sexual relations, in the education of the children, in maternity rituals, where the Taoist mentality and the sexual duality related to the concept of yin and yang are strongly affirmed? In other words, against the development of male characteristics and the growing manliness of the female, it seems that a greater complexity and the polyphony of the female subject is now expressed in an increasingly flexible society. This society has started from the beginning of the 21st century to reinforce another form of femininity that is more focused on individuality, and creativity, rather than simply being worried about having the same rights and recognition as men.


The meeting of the western world with China is the major event of the third millennium. What does the greatest psychoanalyst in the world think about the encounter of psychoanalysis and China?


Julia Kristeva: I think another perspective can be opened precisely with regard to those great movements of women's emancipation who lead Chinese women to demand (and sometimes achieve) the same social status as men. This perspective is made possible by a better knowledge of human sciences that progressed in the West since the end of the 19th century, and especially psychoanalysis.

To conclude the subject of the emancipation movement that started at the very beginning of the 20th century up to Mao's thought and the Great Step Forward, I would like to draw your attention to a fact highlighted by Mao: "Times have changed, men and women are equal. Whatever men can achieve, women can achieve too." Obviously, a large portion of the improvements that this statement entails hasn’t been reached. But also, is it the goal of the women to become equal to men? Do equal rights threaten a difference that is altogether sexual, at the level of sensitivity and creativity? A difference that gives all its richness to the encounter of men and women?

I now would like to to address those questions in the last part of what I'm bringing to you today. Beyond the question of civil rights, equality at work and in executive positions, I would like to scrutinize the particularity, the specificity of the woman as a subject. Freud's thoughts on the matter can be useful. I would like to draw the attention of the audience to a thread that is maybe a little harder to follow, but maybe closer to our daily life experience. Your question brings me to this more thorough examination: what is the role of feminism? Is it a question of making sure that women are like men, or is it a true anthropological revolution, as I was trying to say when celebrating Simone De Beauvoir's hundredth anniversary? This revolution would enable us to open the question of what is being a woman, to understand the complexity of this experience in different cultures, and to transform the male/female relationship, the family structure itself and the social bond. I think there is here a much more ambitious goal. The history of Chinese feminism supports this goal we identified in our analysis: it tells us to maintain our standing more strongly than ever in the fight for civil rights, but also to go further in affirming than behind the civil rights there are civilizations.

The globalized world fosters its different civilizations: we should try to examine them thoroughly in order to identify their particularities that are present in every human being. I would call the important issues that feminism enables us to discuss the necessity of carrying on globalization as a real transvaluation of cultural memories. The expression is borrowed from Nietzsche. "Transvaluate" cultural memories imply knowing them first. When it comes to China, it means knowing Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and the role of women in all those experiences, and how those notions are manifested in everyone's behavior, sometimes involuntarily. I would therefore argue that feminism has a major and radical role to play in the process of transvaluation. The emergence of China and modern Chinese feminism demand that we deepen and radicalize this transvaluation. How? By grounding our understanding of social sciences and specifically psychoanalysis with it's current expansions. But why psychoanalysis?

I told you about my trip to China and my contribution to feminism in terms of women's rights. But I owe you another confession about psychoanalysis and my implications in it. My four years of study in Chinese language did not make me a Sinologist at all. I'm not a specialist of China. And even as a psychoanalyst, I had only two Chinese analysands, a man and woman, born in France to Chinese parents, perfectly Occidentalized, and who didn't talk Mandarin except on rare occasions. They could only partially relate to Chinese tradition. I think they represent something I would rather call "polyphonic personalities produced by globalization" than modern Chinese citizens.

However, if I accepted your invitation to deepen the role of international feminism today, despite its modest contact with the Chinese continent, it is first because the semiologist, the philosopher, the psychoanalyst and the woman I am couldn't imagine the great challenge that the confrontation of Chinese culture and European Culture would represent. This challenge is much more complex than the economical, financial, military and political challenges. It is a cultural challenge. I also firmly believe that the dialogue between people coming from the Chinese culture and people coming from the Greek, Jewish and Christian cultures can be possible through psychoanalysis. This is because it has a special unique and decisive position among social sciences.

As the Europeans philosophers throughout history witnessed, this poses a great

challenge. I will quote only one of them: Blaise Pascal, a great philosopher and mathematician from the 17th century, who said in his Thoughts: "Which is the more credible of the two, Moses or China? It is not a question of seeing this summarily. I tell you there is in it something to blind, and something to enlighten. We must put the papers on the table", which means we need to get into the knowledge of the texts themselves to answer the question: "Moses or China?". It is a very condensed and provocative formulation. When he says "Moses", he probably thinks about the Greek, Jewish and Christian traditions that crystallize in the name "Moses", around the concept of identity and unity of the human being. He was probably thinking about the word of Elohim to Moses in Exodus, then used again by Jesus: "I am who I am", or "I will be what I will be". The question "Who am I?" constituted the main question in western philosophy. Later on, Freud will continue in his own way, by putting the individual who is engulfed in this anxiety, "Who I am", on the divan and by asking him or her "tell me how you love".  As you can see, I'm taking bold short-cuts to lead you to the idea that the question of being and the question of singularity: "being" and "Who I am" are not fundaments of the Chinese thought. The Chinese thought doesn't question the foundation or the origin. We are therefore facing a discrepancy that is hard to resolve. Is there a possible encounter between the western world focused on the "I" and "Who am I?", and the Chinese thought which doesn't use these notions? Is this an insoluble opposition, or are there possible connections? Indeed, in the triple configuration of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, the Chinese thought is not based on the "being" and the "I", but on something that sinologist have started to call a "uniting processive fluid", that feeds and enriches life.

So is there an encounter between the West and China, on the questions of the personhood as well as freedom and truth? Of course the question of sexual identity is always implied in these different fields.

I remember that during our trip in China in 1974 with Philippe Sollers and Roland Barthes, we were shown archeological evidences of matriarchy in ancient China with great pride. In the Sian area where the excavations were made, they showed two-stage funeral rituals: first, a moment of separate mourning for each sex, then the disposal of the grandmother's mortal remains in the middle, surrounded by the members of the family. This was an evidence for the existence of matriarchy. Since 1974, a lot of progresses have been made in this direction. Recent anthropological researches draw our attention to an ethnic minority, still living in modern China at the frontier of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. They are the Na, a community where most of the time people don't marry. Since there's no marriage, there's no father, not even social ones. We are here in another dimension, different from Confucian strictness embodied in the law code centered on the father and masculine ancestors; we're in a society where people are not individuals but agents whose social bond is made by women. There is not even a word to say "father" or "husband". The communities are formed by a matriline that descended from a common female ancestor. They are divided in groups of brothers and sisters who live under the same roof and raise children together. Men come to visit women. Still today, in a Na village, a room of the house is dedicated to the woman who will be visited - not by a man, but by the "rain" or the "wind" of a visitor. One may notice that it is the man who is the object of exchange here, and not even the man himself but his semen. Incest remains a strict taboo between blood relatives of the same house. One may notice here the maternal hold, and the vital importance attributed to the male semen seems to be underlying a rich variety of erotic techniques found in Taoism.

The idea of a body I have in mind is not individual but composed of fragments. These are the parts of the body, genitals, and also sensory organs, all directly connected to the Taoist fluid that is to say to the Cosmos. Those fragments lead to extraordinary experiences of pleasure and enjoyment, which would correspond to mystical ecstasies in our western system. What I have in mind is the union of breath, the internal alchemy and all the compendiums of sexual rituals in Taoism as told by the Book of the Yellow Castle. They describe an erotic choreography, giving details about matings where the partners seek an absolute abandonment, the absence of thoughts, the coming back to an embryonic state and the in utero relation to the mother. This alchemy is described as an immersion in the Tao, where the jin and jang give birth to each other. All of this echoes Lao-Tse, who mentions the body of an old child that anyone can re-build without a father, but by becoming one's own mother in a regressive climax that is considered as an access to eternal life. We are here in a dimension where incest is not really forbidden, where the body is fragmented, the sexuality challenges death by the fantasy of a return to the matrilineal memory, through the fantasy of the in utero life without the father. It is the reverse side of patriarchal society and monotheism itself. In this context, one may also see the foot binding as the reverse side of the biblical circumcision of the male sex where the woman is punished for the compelling pleasure of the feminine jin. This fluidity and extravagant enjoyment of the fragmented and bisexual body, challenges the taboos in the absence of any legal and paternal barrier. It will then be the mission of the Confucian cult to try to impose strict religious rules and rituals. The feudal and patriarchal structure controls the expression of the Taoist, fragmented and cosmic body.

Lacan has recently analyzed this pleasure, with two new extensions. First, he explains that this pleasure can leave us unmoved, and it is possible that we won't comprehend our own pleasure. Then he connects it to a perverse experience close to the innocent ecstasy of the polymorph narcissistic on the verge of psychosis. There might be here a new field of research for the permanent deconstruction and reconstruction of the male/female couple, and for the possible future reorganizations of this dyad that the 20th century foresaw. I mention the legendary excesses of Taoist sexuality in this perspective. In a more covert, pre-conscious or unconscious way, these processes seem to be present in the modern Chinese novel and cinema. They seem to show the excesses and the audacities of the psychosexual experience in the male/female couple. The certitude of having a psychosexual duality and an unashamed bisexuality comes from it. This duality is not only a psychic one, because body and soul mingle in the processual life. It happens in a much more marked, violent, maybe brave and risky way than in other cultures, especially the Christian West dominated by the patrilineal figure.

We are the observers of these excesses through the Chinese modern cinema and literature. They carry on the impression that these excesses inhabit a traditional procreative Chinese couple, by attributing a central importance to the female pleasure, and by stimulating the desire of procreation that is dampened by the economical constraints which force each family into producing only one child. For the major part of the population, a couple has an affirmed psychosexual bisexuality but it maintains by appearances a clear male/female split. However, our life of pleasure leads us to a sexual intensity that is at the center of the social bond, at the center of the couple. In the modern world this structure based on procreation seems to be the most powerful structure for the continuity of mankind, as opposed to the biblical couple as it is performed by Jewish people. We are now talking about two different models of procreation that feminism should analyze very carefully. The Jewish and the Chinese structure, throughout their history and in their current reincarnations. I emphasize the loss of inhibitions surrounding the physical and biblical bisexuality for Chinese women as it is shown in Chinese cinema and literature.

What are the conclusions a feminist or anyone could draw from this quick outline of the main examples of the cultural difference between Moses and China? I think the first thing one should notice is that psychoanalysis itself starts to appropriate the processivity of the Chinese world, the fluidity of identities, male/female, body/soul, language/tone, sense/significance, writing/speech. I will give you a few examples.

Modern psychoanalysis undertakes a very important task in mother-child relationship. My personal research also focuses on this field. For instance, in classical Freudianism the mother wasn't a very developed object of investigation. Winnicott made great progresses in this direction. But after Heidegger and Freud, and especially after Lacan, I consider the mother not to be an object for the child in the extent that there's a separation between subject and object. She rather has the status that modern psychoanalysis will call the status of a thing, that is to say, an entity that is not yet separated from the subject, and that the child uses, that is his possession. It is an extremely tight bond. I recently called it a reliance. The reliance can take the shape of a great violence and repulsion. Who doesn't know the anger children are capable of, the violent hold of the mother on her objects? But it can also become a sublimation. On the movement carrying sublimation the separation from the mother can be built up. This reliance can then become a permanent sublimation between body and soul. The poet, the mystic, are situated in this process of reliance. On the contrary, the psychotic is situated in the violent form of reliance and so is the audacious writer, who will explore abjection, repulsion and the violence between the non-me-yet and the non-other-yet. The dramatic writing about the mother-child relationship in the works of Céline seems to embody this exploration. In other words, on the topic of the mother-child relationship, modern psychoanalysis works towards a better understanding of a processsivity that is specific to the Chinese culture. It doesn't necessarily means that we're becoming Chinese. But it enables us to have a better understanding of the Chinese world and of elements that stayed unknown and under-estimated in the psyche of the western individual.

Another example to show this time how the progresses of western thought can help the Chinese individual. I refer to the case of a Chinese scholar, an important figure today in France who was my Chinese professor when I tried to achieve a few modest skills in this field. He was praising the adaptive vitality of this permanent processivity in Chinese thought. Until a time when he became depressed and told me this sentence that I will never forget: "When depression seizes me, I have no resort. I miss only one object, another object to invest, someone to believe in." In other words, the absence of a separation between me and the other, the absence of the processes of reflection and conceptualization of otherness that Greek, Jewish and Christian thoughts gave us, appeared to him as something he missed. And looking for this other pole separated from him, that would therefore be out of processivity, and to which he could rely on to commit with it and believe in it, he was facing a dilemna: "I can either, he would say, convert to Catholicism or lie on the divan." I think it is a dilemma that a person coming from the Chinese world can experience today. I was told that the temptation of western religions and spirituality is rather strong in a certain class, probably a westernized class that is becoming bigger and bigger in China. What is the possible position of monotheist religions in the Chinese world? There is also the attraction, the temptation and the seduction that psychoanalysis created among young Chinese people.

One last word to show the answer psychoanalysis gives to forms of discontents such as depression, such as sexual difference as we experience it in the West. What is the answer we can give, and how can we be efficient? My last example is something I experienced after giving a conference in Beijing on Female Genius. I was praising the emancipation of Chinese women, when a young man stood up and told me: "Madam, but who is going to save us from women? We as men are rejected. We have no other choice but domestic violence or homosexuality to protect us." Of course, I understand that the valorization I gave earlier to bisexuality doesn't necessarily give access to a singular pleasure. This interior alchemy praised by Taoist texts, with the polymorph and ecstatic pleasure that I mentioned before, can't replace the violence of accessing otherness that the modern individual seeks, and that psychoanalysis enables us to understand.

If there is a gap between the Chinese world and the western world, there are also interior processes within the European world, specifically in writing, sublimation, the arts and music, which get close to Chinese processivity. I have specifically Colette in mind, and her book The Pure and the impure. She glorifies a primary female homosexuality. She portrays it as a sort of heaven, through the couple of the two ladies of Llangollen. They are not described as two lesbians who go against taboos, but as a mother-daughter incest exempted of any guilt, experienced as an infantile return. It is the exact contrary of homosexuality described by Proust himself as an accursed race. Here, we're under the reign of innocence, without guilt. Colette can therefore be described as a Taoist wise man, one that nourishes himself with the mother. Marguerite Yourcenar, our French writer who might be known in China, may have had a sense of that when she said that Colette was "as complicated as old China". Moreover, a lot of novels from Philippe Sollers that mix infantile and incestuous are close to this Taoist pleasure. The book Corps d'enfance, corps chinois, Philippe Sollers et la Chine, by Jean-Michel Lou, indicates that.

I tried to draw your attention, on the one hand, on a few patterns where China and its culture use western concepts and particularly psychoanalysis to face psychic difficulties. On the other hand, the evolution of western philosophic thought but also western literature towards processivity in which the Chinese "life nourishment" is shining with polymorph narcissism, and ecstatic stage that are socialized and not experienced as a pathology but as a part of the daily life. All of this shows that our encounter is possible.

But it implies many things. I'm now talking to the feminists attending this conference. It implies that we, western feminists, will try to learn as much as possible your tradition, either Taoism, Buddhism or Confucianism, your political history and your ongoing fights for women's rights. Then we will be able to try to change our own concepts in our work on transvaluation and deconstruction of western metaphysics.

On your side, it implies that you will not only be feminists who copy western concepts of feminism, but that you will become more and more aware of your own tradition, that you will accept it and familiarize yourselves with it. It implies that you analyze it by using the conceptual tools that western social sciences and philosophy can provide you, but by enriching them in your own way.

It is the only way to truly know the gap and the diversity, and therefore to be able to build a link between the two. In this context, feminism won't be only a form of militancy, but a long-term anthropological research. A cruel but fertile research that will open up new horizons.























Julia Kristeva








Sophie Zhang: 朱莉娅·克里斯蒂娃,在谈“女性主义与中国”之前,我想先提一下,您很早就对中国萌发了浓郁的兴趣,您学过中文,1974年第一次访华,随后出版了《中国妇女》,最近于2009年又重访中国。您创立了一个国际“西蒙娜·德·波伏瓦妇女自由奖”,2010年,您更把这个奖项颁给两位中国女性。


Julia Kristeva:是的,谢谢您提醒我这一段小小的,又已经久远的历史。我想要首先致意参与南京大学“女性主义与中国”研讨会的全体女性与男性,也感谢所有为这次网上的“虚拟相遇”作出贡献的女性和男性。但就像您刚才所说,我同中国的相遇可一点儿也不“虚”,就在19745月,我第一次实实在在地踏上这个“大陆”。我们似乎是自中国加入联合国后首个来华访问的西方知识分子代表团,同行的有菲利普·索莱尔斯、罗兰·巴特、弗朗索瓦·瓦尔、马瑟兰·普莱耐。当时的中国友人都称呼我们“原样派”小组的同志们。




所以,你们也看到,所有这些当时困扰我的问题,可一点儿也不简单,在中国之行的期间,我也没能厘清这些问题,不过这趟旅程倒是催生了一本著作,也就是《中国妇女》,已有中文译本,最近刚出版,译者是我的朋友同济大学的高教授 。不过,在访问中国之后,我渐渐脱离了汉学界,今天,和你们说话的是作为符号学家、精神分析学家和作家的我,为人母的经历、精神分析的种种实践,将我带往别处,而这一“别处”对于你们也不陌生,并没有远离你们的关注点。也正是从“别处”出发,我尝试重新思考1974年自己所提出的那些问题。



Sophie Zhang : 在《中国妇女》一书中,您提到二十世纪初中国女性境况的“现代性”、妇女的解放归功于1919年五四运动资产阶级革命,随后也归功于共产党特别是毛泽东的作用。您是否认为,您是否认为这是西方女性主义和中国女性主义的根本区别?

Julia Kristeva:这是个很有意思的问题,我想分两个时期来讲。首先,请允许我回到拙著《中国妇女》一书中部分内容,我在书中坚持一个观点,那就是20世纪中国妇女解放运动是在资产阶级革命和共产主义革命的基础上发展起来的,并且,我也认为这些运动,稍后我会详细分析,植根于更加久远的中国文化里,可以追溯到神秘的传统中去,即那些人类学传统,那些道教佛教和儒家传统下的传说和仪式。

我今天的访谈也会以这一层面的讨论作为结尾, 我想强调的是,20世纪的这场现代化运动,以推翻旧社会为目标的资产阶级解放运动以及后来的共产主义运动,必然会触及家长制度 父权、女性在家庭中的地位、性自由、个人自由,在个人自由和司法自由迈出了一大步,尤其是在法律方面成绩卓著,或许是史无前例的,但是西方社会,甚至是中国社会内部,却对此了解不深。

首先我想提到一个人的名字,在我研究资产阶级革命和共产主义革命中妇女解放这一议题的时候,这个人给我留下非常深刻的印象,她就是秋瑾。秋瑾是妇女解放运动中的女英雄,她于1907年英勇就义,孙中山称她为“巾帼英雄”。我想引用她死后发表的一首诗中的一句,诗的题目叫《勉女权歌》 ,其中写道,“那女平权天赋就,岂甘居牛后。愿奋然自拔,一洗从前羞耻垢。”这首诗作于1907年,她就义的那年。直到今天,应该说那些在“崛起的国度”中的女性都很难有这样的意识,“愿奋然自拔”是非常美好的境界。秋瑾的女儿是在美国受的教育,之后成为了中国第一位女飞行。我刚刚提到的在1912年成立的资产阶级共和国的建国之始的这场妇女运动便标志着妇女解放的开端,首先是受到了西方妇女争取参政运动的影响,但同时也带有反封建、反父权的性质。

这场争取妇女权益的运动,又被称为“女权运动”、“参政运动”,它的目标在于支持共和国政府,要求女人拥有和男人同等的选举权。我想列举几个当时的有代表性的妇女团体,“上海女子参政同志会” 、“女子后援会”、“尚武会”、“女子同盟会”、“女国民联合会”等等,值得高兴的是,这些如雨后春笋般蓬勃发展的妇女团体,在1912122号,在民主共和国的首都南京集会,就在你们那里,组成了一个同盟会,并明确提出在五四运动过后需要落实的一些原则。我想列举她们制定的一些原则,我再次援引,以使得全世界还不够了解这些最早的妇女运动的突破的人知道,在1919年,中国女权运动发起者们要求男女权力的平等,比如受高等教育的权利,废除一夫多妻制度,废除妇女买卖,要求婚姻自主以及改变家庭旧习俗等等。





我们来到中国的时候是1974年,还在大跃进时期 ,我们周围人们的议论和报刊杂志上的文章都更强调要建立一个新的民主家庭而不是取消家庭,而这也是后毛泽东时代的无政府主义的状况。因而,调整并且在法律上重视家庭和女性工作能力是很重要的,问题是要平衡家庭主妇和女性工作者之间的关系,尤其要促使女性得到提升走上领导岗位。但很遗憾的是,事与愿违。



Sophie Zhang : 西方世界和中国的相遇是第三个千年的大事,作为世界上最伟大的精神分析学家之一,您认为中国和精神分析学之间这种相遇的前景如何?

Julia Kristeva:女性解放取得了巨大成就促使中国女性去期盼,有时去完成与男人同样的职能,正是联想到这一点,我认为可以从19世纪末起在西方发展起来的人文学科、尤其是精神分析学的角度开启一个研究的新领域。我还是想用毛泽东的一句话来作结,从20世纪初到大跃进时期的妇女解放史都集中体现在毛泽东的这句话中:“时代不同了,男女都一样。男同志能办到的事情,女同志也能办到。”显然在这个方向上,很多目标没有实现。





为什么要用精神分析法?因为之前我已经提到了我的中国之行,我对那场争取妇女权益的女权运动所作出的贡献。还有一个理由与精神分析法以及我对此的研究有关。四年的汉语学习,我开始已经提过了,并没有让我成为一个心理学家、我也不是从精神分析入手研究中国的行家, 我所接触过的精神分析对象中只有两个中国人,一男一女,都是在法国出生,会讲中文,他们已经极为西化了,他们只是偶尔说说中文,部分认同中国的文化传统。在我看来他们比一个现代的普通中国人更能代表全球化背景下涌现出来的一批人,我称之为“多语人”。


还有一个原因在于我深信精神分析法在人文科学中占据特别的位置,在我看来也许是独特的、决定性的位置。有着中国文化背景的人们和有着西方、希腊、犹太,基督教文化背景的人们之间的对话,这种对话是可以展开的。历史上欧洲的哲学家们知道这一巨大挑战的存在,我只举一个例子,十七世纪的哲学家、数学家布莱斯·帕斯卡在他的《思想录》中写道:“摩西和中国,哪个更可信?草率考虑这一问题是不可取的,这其中有阴影,有光明,应当把书放在桌上,进入并阅读文本,然后再回答这个问题。摩西还是中国?” 这是一个内涵丰富、极具挑战意味的说法。



















我想到了科莱特,比如她在《纯洁的和不纯洁的》一书中赞美了一种我们所谓的初发的女性同性恋,这种感情被描绘成一种天堂般的美好,两位兰格伦的女子(Dames de Llangollen)并没有被描绘成打破禁忌的同性恋者,而是完全无罪恶感的母女之间的乱伦,像孩子般天真地生活着。这与另一种被普鲁斯特自己称为被诅咒的种族的同性恋模式截然不同。在科莱特那里,呈现的是没有任何负罪感的天真无邪。科莱特在某些方面表现得像个道家的智者,从母亲那里得到滋养。玛格丽特·尤斯纳尔,我们的法国作家,可能中国读者也知道她,她说科莱特就跟古老的中国一样复杂。