Hu Shi and the New Culture Movement

Exhibit on Chinese reformer and liberal visionary Hu Shi at the Confucius Institute, Freie Universität Berlin / Opening ceremony on May 15, 2019

No 114/2019 from May 02, 2019

The Confucius Institute at Freie Universität Berlin has organized a photography and poster exhibit about the important Chinese visionary Hu Shi (1891-1962). Hu was a co-founder and the central figure of the first mass political movement in China, the May Fourth Movement, which paved the way for China into modernity. The movement emerged after World War I in 1919 - 100 years ago - and as part of the so-called New Culture Movement, it brought together intellectual and politically liberal and socialist impulses. The exhibit also depicts the admission of Hu Shi to the Prussian Academy of Sciences and his close connections with German intellectuals. Entitled Hu Shi (1891-1962) und die Bewegung für eine Neue Kultur , the exhibit was created in cooperation with the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Peking University. It will be on display from May 16 to July 30, 2019, at the Berlin Confucius Institute. Admission is free, and no registration is required. There will be an opening ceremony on May 15, where Dr. Ouyang Zhesheng, a professor at the Faculty of History at Peking University, will give a presentation on the life and work of Hu Shi.

China experienced profound political and ideological upheavals after World War I. Hu Shi, as the protagonist of the New Culture Movement, shaped the spiritual and intellectual life of the country. The impetus for the reform movement came from student protests against the Versailles Treaty, which started on May 4, 1919. Thousands of students gathered in Beijing to protest against Japan, the former enemy during the war. Many Chinese citizens across the country joined the demonstrations, strikes, and boycotts. Following the protests, the Chinese delegates in Versailles refused to sign the treaty, which they felt paid little heed to Chinese wishes and objections. The turmoil established the first mass political movement in Chinese history. The movement helped to spread new political and literary ideas and a "new culture." Hu Shi was at the center of the spiritual reform currents striving to modernize the country, its values, science and scholarship, writing, and literature. He maintained close contacts with intellectuals in Western countries, including many from Germany. He was the first Chinese person admitted to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. The Academy gave this explanation choosing him: "Despite all the political and economic misery, a tremendously rich spiritual life is currently growing in China. We deem it urgent for Germany to gain access to the promising new forces emerging there. In our opinion, there is no better and stronger mediator than Hu Shi."

Time and Place

  • Exhibit: May 16 to July 30, 2019
  • Opening times: Monday to Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m
  • Opening ceremony: Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 6:15 p.m.
  • Confucius Institute at Freie Universität Berlin, Goßlerstraße 2/4, 14195 Berlin
    (S-Bahnhof Lichterfelde-West (S1), Bus M48)

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