With the ever-expanding presence of China in the global economy, Americans more and more look east for goods and trade. But as Caroline Frank reveals, this is not a new development. China loomed as large in the minds—and account books—of eighteenth-century Americans as it does today. Long before they had achieved independence from Britain and were able to sail to Asia themselves, American mariners, merchants, and consumers were aware of the East Indies and preparing for voyages there. Focusing on the trade and consumption of porcelain, tea, and chinoiserie, Frank shows that colonial Americans saw themselves as part of a world much larger than just Britain and Europe
Frank not only recovers the widespread presence of Chinese commodities in early America and the impact of East Indies trade on the nature of American commerce, but also explores the role of the this trade in American state formation. She argues that to understand how Chinese commodities fueled the opening acts of the Revolution, we must consider the power dynamics of the American quest for china—and China—during the colonial period. Filled with fresh and surprising insights, this ambitious study adds new dimensions to the ongoing story of America’s relationship with China.
The Qianlong emperor, who dominated the religious and political life of eighteenth-century China, was in turn dominated by elaborate ritual prescriptions. These texts determined what he wore and ate, how he moved, and above all how he performed the yearly Grand Sacrifices. In Of Body and Brush, Angela Zito offers a stunningly original analysis of the way ritualizing power was produced jointly by the throne and the official literati who dictated these prescriptions.
Forging a critical cultural historical method that challenges traditional categories of Chinese studies, Zito shows for the first time that in their performance, the ritual texts embodied, literally, the metaphysics upon which imperial power rested. By combining rule through the brush (the production of ritual texts) with rule through the body (mandated performance), the throne both exhibited its power and attempted to control resistance to it. Bridging Chinese history, anthropology, religion, and performance and cultural studies, Zito brings an important new perspective to the human sciences in general.
For decades, China’s Xinjiang region has been the site of clashes between long-residing Uyghur and Han settlers. Up until now, much scholarly attention has been paid to state actions and the Uyghur’s efforts to resist cultural and economic repression. This has left the other half of the puzzle—the motivations and ambitions of Han settlers themselves—sorely understudied.
With Oil and Water, anthropologist Tom Cliff offers the first ethnographic study of Han in Xinjiang, using in-depth vignettes, oral histories, and more than fifty original photographs to explore how and why they became the people they are now. By shifting focus to the lived experience of ordinary Han settlers, Oil and Water provides an entirely new perspective on Chinese nation building in the twenty-first century and demonstrates the vital role that Xinjiang Han play in national politics—not simply as Beijing’s pawns, but as individuals pursuing their own survival and dreams on the frontier.
An American storyteller’s immersion In the Chinese folktale tradition
“Having traveled on the same People to People Ambassador journey to China with Julie, I have seen Julie's anthology from inception to fruition. It is a masterful, engaging, informative and scholarly addition to our understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture, particularly storytelling and folk traditions, from ancient days to today. Practicing storytellers will especially appreciate her tips for telling and context clues at the end of each story.” --Judith Heineman, storyteller, producer and Illinois Humanities Road Scholar
Guoqi XU Harvard University Press, 2008 Library of Congress GV651.X78 2008 | Dewey Decimal 796.0951
Already the world has seen the political, economic, and cultural significance of hosting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing—in policies instituted and altered, positions softened, projects undertaken. But will the Olympics make a lasting difference? This book approaches questions about the nature and future of China through the lens of sports—particularly as sports finds its utmost international expression in the Olympics.
On Their Own Terms
Benjamin A. ELMAN Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress Q127.C5E48 2005 | Dewey Decimal 509.51
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, imperial reformers, early Republicans, Guomindang party cadres, and Chinese Communists have all prioritized science and technology. In this book, Elman gives a nuanced account of the ways in which native Chinese science evolved over four centuries, under the influence of both Jesuit and Protestant missionaries. In the end, he argues, the Chinese produced modern science on their own terms.
One Quarter of Humanity presents evidence about historical and contemporary Chinese population behavior that overturns much of the received wisdom about the differences between China and the West. James Lee and Wang Feng argue that there has been effective regulation of population growth in China through a variety of practices that depressed marital fertility to levels far below European standards, and through the widespread practices of infanticide and abortion. These practices and other distinctive features of the Chinese demographic and social system, they argue, led to a different demographic transition in China from the one that took place in the West.
From teen dating to public displays of affection, from the "fishing girls" and "big moneys" that wander discos in search of romance to the changing shape of sex in the Chinese city, this is a book like no other. James Farrer immerses himself in the vibrant nightlife of Shanghai, draws on individual and group interviews with Chinese youth, as well as recent changes in popular media, and considers how sexual culture has changed in China since its shift to a more market-based economy.
More and more men and women in China these days are having sex before marriage, creating a new youth sex culture based on romance, leisure, and free choice. The Chinese themselves describe these changes as an "opening up" in response to foreign influences and increased Westernization. Farrer explores these changes by tracing the basic elements in talk about sex and sexuality in Shanghai. He then shows how Chinese youth act out the sometimes-contradictory meanings of sex in the new market society. For Farrer, sexuality is a lens through which we can see how China imagines and understands itself in the wake of increased globalization. Through personal storytelling, neighborhood gossip, and games of seduction, young men and women in Shanghai balance pragmatism with romance, lust with love, and seriousness with play, collectively constructing and individually coping with a new culture based on market principles. With its provocative glimpse into the sex lives of young Chinese, then, Opening Up offers something even greater: a thoughtful consideration of China as it continues to develop into an economic superpower.
Stanley K. Abe University of Chicago Press, 2002 Library of Congress N8193.C6A24 2002 | Dewey Decimal 704.9489430951
This richly illustrated book explores the large body of sculpture, paintings, and other religious imagery produced for China's common classes from the third to the sixth centuries C.E. In contrast to the works made for imperial patrons, illustrious monastics, or other luminaries, these ordinary images-modest in scale, mass produced, and at times incomplete-were created for those of lesser standing. Because they cannot be related to well-known historical figures or social groups, these images have been considered a largely nebulous, undistinguished mass of works.
Situating his study in the gaps between conventional categories such as Buddhism, Daoism, and Chinese popular art, Abe examines works—including some of the earliest known examples of Buddha-like images in China—that were commissioned by patrons of modest standing and produced by nameless artists and artisans. Sophisticated and lucidly written, Ordinary Images offers an unprecedented exploration of the lively and diverse nature of image making and popular practices.
Chinese culture held a well-known fascination for modernist poets like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. What is less known but is made fully clear by Zhaoming Qian is the degree to which oriental culture made these poets the modernists they became. This ambitious and illuminating study shows that Orientalism, no less than French symbolism and Italian culture, is a constitutive element of Modernism. Consulting rare and unpublished materials, Qian traces Pound’s and Williams’s remarkable dialogues with the great Chinese poets—Qu Yuan, Li Bo, Wang Wei, and Bo Juyi—between 1913 and 1923. His investigation reveals that these exchanges contributed more than topical and thematic ideas to the Americans’ work and suggests that their progressively modernist style is directly linked to a steadily growing contact and affinity for similar Chinese styles. He demonstrates, for example, how such influences as the ethics of pictorial representation, the style of ellipsis, allusion, and juxtaposition, and the Taoist/Zen–Buddhist notion of nonbeing/being made their way into Pound’s pre-Fenollosan Chinese adaptations, Cathay, Lustra, and the Early Cantos, as well as Williams’s Sour Grapes and Spring and All. Developing a new interpretation of important work by Pound and Williams, Orientalism and Modernism fills a significant gap in accounts of American Modernism, which can be seen here for the first time in its truly multicultural character.
In Other Chinas Ralph A. Litzinger investigates the politics of ethnic identity in postsocialist China. By combining innovative research with extensive fieldwork conducted during the late 1980s and early 1990s in south-central and southwestern China, Litzinger provides a detailed ethnography of the region’s Yao population in order to question how minority groups are represented in China. In particular, he focuses on how elite members of this minority population have represented their own culture, history, and identity to a range of Chinese and Western observers. Litzinger begins by describing how during the Republican period the Yao were considered a dangerous people who preferred to consort with beasts and goblins rather than join in the making of a modern nation. He then compares this to the communist revolutionaries’ view of the Yao as impressive rebels and positive examples of subaltern agency. Litzinger shows how scholars, government workers, communist party officials, and Taoist ritual specialists have influenced the varied depictions of the Yao and, in doing so, he advances a new understanding of both the Yao and the effects of official discourse, written histories, state policy, and practices of minority empowerment. In addition to analyzing issues of ritual practice, social order, morality, and the governance of ethnic populations, Litzinger considers the Yao’s role in the cultural reforms of the 1980s. By distancing his study from romanticized depictions of minorities Litzinger is able to focus on how minority representation, struggle, and agency have influenced the history of the People’s Republic, cultural debates within contemporary Chinese society, and China’s rapidly changing role in the global order. This book will be of interest to Asianists in both anthropology and cultural studies and should appeal more generally to scholars invested in issues of ethnic identity, minority politics, and transnationalism.
Westerners tend to equate political action with revolution and open criticism, leading to concerns that the less outspoken citizens of nonliberal societies are brainwashed, complicit, or paralyzed by fear. Jing Wang shatters this myth, showing how online activists in China are quietly building powerful coalitions for incremental social change.
China’s new nationalism is rooted not in its present power but in shameful memories of its former weaknesses. Invaded, humiliated, and looted by foreign powers in the past, China looks out at the twenty-first century through the lens of the past two centuries. History matters deeply to Beijing’s current rulers, and Robert Bickers explains why.
"A major contribution to the study of global events in times of global media. Owning the Olympics tests the possibilities and limits of the concept of 'media events' by analyzing the mega-event of the information age: the Beijing Olympics. . . . A good read from cover to cover."
—Guobin Yang, Associate Professor, Asian/Middle Eastern Cultures & Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University
From the moment they were announced, the Beijing Games were a major media event and the focus of intense scrutiny and speculation. In contrast to earlier such events, however, the Beijing Games are also unfolding in a newly volatile global media environment that is no longer monopolized by broadcast media. The dramatic expansion of media outlets and the growth of mobile communications technology have changed the nature of media events, making it significantly more difficult to regulate them or control their meaning. This volatility is reflected in the multiple, well-publicized controversies characterizing the run-up to Beijing 2008. According to many Western commentators, the People's Republic of China seized the Olympics as an opportunity to reinvent itself as the "New China"---a global leader in economics, technology, and environmental issues, with an improving human-rights record. But China's maneuverings have also been hotly contested by diverse global voices, including prominent human-rights advocates, all seeking to displace the official story of the Games.
Bringing together a distinguished group of scholars from Chinese studies, human rights, media studies, law, and other fields, Owning the Olympics reveals how multiple entities---including the Chinese Communist Party itself---seek to influence and control the narratives through which the Beijing Games will be understood.
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