onsdag 30. mars 2022

A Onetime Confucian Academy Balances Past, Present, and Future

Situated at the foot of Mount Yuelu on the west bank of the Xiangjiang River in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, is one of China’s oldest cultural and educational institutions: the Yuelu Academy. One of the “four famous academies” of imperial China, its modern-day incarnation consists of school buildings, a Confucius Temple, and a newly built museum.

My own office is located in the Hall of Victory, designed by one of modern China’s pre-eminent architects, Liu Shiying, and finished in 1948. Even after the past two years brought new pandemic-related controls, a steady stream of tourists files past my door almost every day. They’re drawn by the Academy’s buildings and gardens, long history, and cultural significance. Yet, few see the Academy as more than just a living fossil, a curious holdover from China’s Confucian past. That it could not just carry on that tradition — and actively seek to evolve it — rarely seems to cross their minds.