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Contested Histories and Contemporary Realities
Is Confucianism a religion? If so, why do most Chinese think it isn't? From ancient Confucian temples, to nineteenth-century archives, to the testimony of people interviewed by the author throughout China over a period of more than a decade, this book traces the birth and growth of the idea of Confucianism as a world religion.
The book begins at Oxford, in the late nineteenth century, when Friedrich Max Müller and James Legge classified Confucianism as a world religion in the new discourse of "world religions" and the emerging discipline of comparative religion. Anna Sun shows how that decisive moment continues to influence the understanding of Confucianism in the contemporary world, not only in the West but also in China, where the politics of Confucianism has become important to the present regime in a time of transition. Contested histories of Confucianism are vital signs of social and political change.
Sun also examines the revival of Confucianism in contemporary China and the social significance of the ritual practice of Confucian temples. While the Chinese government turns to Confucianism to justify its political agenda, Confucian activists have started a movement to turn Confucianism into a religion. Confucianism as a world religion might have begun as a scholarly construction, but are we witnessing its transformation into a social and political reality?
With historical analysis, extensive research, and thoughtful reflection, Confucianism as a World Religion will engage all those interested in religion and global politics at the beginning of the Chinese century.
Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China
One of the core assumptions of recent American foreign policy is that China's post-1978 policy of "reform and openness" will lead to political liberalization. This book challenges that assumption and the general relationship between economic liberalization and democratization. Moreover, it analyzes the effect of foreign direct investment (FDI) liberalization on Chinese labor politics.
Market reforms and increased integration with the global economy have brought about unprecedented economic growth and social change in China during the last quarter of a century. Contagious Capitalism contends that FDI liberalization played several roles in the process of China's reforms. First, it placed competitive pressure on the state sector to produce more efficiently, thus necessitating new labor practices. Second, it allowed difficult and politically sensitive labor reforms to be extended to other parts of the economy. Third, it caused a reformulation of one of the key ideological debates of reforming socialism: the relative importance of public industry. China's growing integration with the global economy through FDI led to a new focus of debate--away from the public vs. private industry dichotomy and toward a nationalist concern for the fate of Chinese industry.
In comparing China with other Eastern European and Asian economies, two important considerations come into play, the book argues: China's pattern of ownership diversification and China's mode of integration into the global economy. This book relates these two factors to the success of economic change without political liberalization and addresses the way FDI liberalization has affected relations between workers and the ruling Communist Party. Its conclusion: reform and openness in this context resulted in a strengthened Chinese state, a weakened civil society (especially labor), and a delay in political liberalization.
The Yellow River has long been viewed as a symbol of China's cultural and political development, its management traditionally held as a gauge of dynastic power. For centuries, the country's early rulers employed a defensive approach to the river by building dikes and diversion channels to protect fields and population centers from flooding. This situation changed dramatically after the Yuan (1260-1368) emperors constructed the Grand Canal, which linked the North China Plain and the capital at Beijing with the Yangtze Valley. One of the most ambitious imperial undertakings of any age, by the turn of the nineteenth century the water system had become a complex network of locks, spillways, and dikes stretching eight hundred kilometers from the mountains in western Henan to the Yellow Sea. Controlling the Dragon examines Yellow River engineering from two perspectives. The first looks at long-term efforts to manage the river starting in the early Ming dynasty, at the nature of the bureaucracy created to do the job, and finally focuses on two of the Confucian engineers who served successfully in the decade before the system was abandoned. In the second section, the author chronicles a series of dramatic floods in the 1840s and explores the way politics, environment, and technology interacted to undermine the state's commitment to the Yellow River control system.
Introducing radical counter-visions of race and slavery, and probing the legal and philosophical questions raised by indenture, The Coolie Speaks offers the first critical reading of a massive testimony case from Cuba in 1874. From this case, Yun traces the emergence of a "coolie narrative" that forms a counterpart to the "slave narrative." The written and oral testimonies of nearly 3,000 Chinese laborers in Cuba, who toiled alongside African slaves, offer a rare glimpse into the nature of bondage and the tortuous transition to freedom. Trapped in one of the last standing systems of slavery in the Americas, the Chinese described their hopes and struggles, and their unrelenting quest for freedom.
Yun argues that the testimonies from this case suggest radical critiques of the "contract" institution, the basis for free modern society. The example of Cuba, she suggests, constitutes the early experiment and forerunner of new contract slavery, in which the contract itself, taken to its extreme, was wielded as a most potent form of enslavement and complicity. Yun further considers the communal biography of a next-generation Afro-Chinese Cuban author and raises timely theoretical questions regarding race, diaspora, transnationalism, and globalization.
Environmental Change and Peasant Response in Central China, 1736-1949
The Jianghan Plain in central China has been shaped by its relationship with water. Once a prolific rice-growing region that drew immigrants to its fertile paddy fields, it has, since the eighteenth century, become prone to devastating flooding and waterlogging. Over time, population pressures and dike building left more and more people in the region vulnerable to frequent water calamities. The first environmental and socioeconomic history of the region, Coping with Calamity considers the Jianghan Plain's volatile environment, the constant challenges it presented to peasants, and their often ingenious and sophisticated responses during the Qing and Republican periods.
By the end of the nineteenth century, after a long period during which the weakness of China became ever more obvious, intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was a musical genre that Liu Ching-chih terms "New Music." With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, New Music reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth–century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of New Music throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the cultural, social, and political forces that shaped New Music and its uses by politicians and the government.
Protestant Missionaries in China, 1874-1917
Opium addiction in China during the closing decades of the Ch'ing dynasty afflicted all segments of society. From government officials to farmers, the population fell prey to the effects of the drug. Some provinces reported addiction rates as high as eighty percent.
With the birth of Chinese nationalism, reformers -- missionaries who had witnessed the effects of opium on Chinese society, students who had studied abroad and returned to their native land with broader perspectives, families who had lost all through the addiction of a loved one, doctors who had firsthand knowledge that opium use led only to death -- cried out against the drug.
Even though many were convinced that opium use had sapped the strength of China, ending the use of the drug was a complicated problem. Opium trade financed the colonial government of India, and imports amounted to many tons annually. Domestic poppies were also cultivated as source of income.
Kathleen Lodwick examines the intersecting efforts of Protestant missionaries, particularly medical doctors, who had long denounced opium use, the British Royal Commission on Opium, which was decidedly pro-opium, the U.S. Philippine Commission, which denounced not only the trade but the Chinese people, and the British officials who finally undertook the task of ending the importation of opium to China.
China kept few records on the amount of drug use or its effects. Missionary medical doctors conducted the first scientific survey on the effects of the drug, and their findings provided clear evidence of its perniciousness. Such evidence could not be ignored, whatever the fortunes involved, and missionaries conducted a campaign of education and awareness in China and abroad. As a result of their efforts, China and Britain entered into a treaty that called for all opium trade to cease by 1917, and both governments as well as the missionaries become immediately active toward that end. The suppression campaign was among the most successful of the late Ch'ing reforms.
Lodwick tells a fascinating story of imperial exploitation and of a strain of honest crusaders who sought to right some of the wrongs their own nation was perpetrating. This book represents a strong argument against legalization of addictive drugs, a topic being discussed today in the United States as a solution to the societal problems our own drug use has caused.
In a demonstration of the value of interdisciplinary, culture-based approaches, this collection of essays on "later" Chinese Buddhism takes us beyond the bedrock subjects of traditional Buddhist historiography--scriptures and commentaries, sectarian developments, lives of notable monks--to examine a wide range of extracanonical materials that illuminate cultural manifestations of Buddhism from the Song dynasty (960-1279) through the modern period. Straying from well-trodden paths, the authors often transgress the boundaries of their own disciplines: historians address architecture; art historians look to politics; a specialist in literature treats poetry that offers gendered insights into Buddhist lives. The broad-based cultural orientation of this volume is predicated on the recognition that art and religion are not closed systems requiring only minimal cross-indexing with other social or aesthetic phenomena but constituent elements in interlocking networks of practice and belief.
The Perspective of Global Modernity
The essays in this volume grew from a series of talks delivered in late 2010 as the Liang Qichao Memorial Lectures at the Academy of National Learning (Guoxue yuan) of Tsinghua University, Beijing. Offering critical perspectives on a number of ideological issues that have figured prominently in Chinese intellectual discourse since the beginning of the so-called “reform and opening” (gaige kaifang) in the late 1970s, these essays range widely in subject matter, from Marxist historiography to sociology and anthropology in China to guoxue/national studies. Together they are conceived as different windows into a basic problem: the deployment of culture and history in postrevolutionary Chinese thought. Dirlik touches on a number of themes, including the repudiation of the revolutionary past after 1978, which has led to a rise of cultural nationalism. He further places these developments within a global context, ultimately making a case methodologically for “worlding” China: bringing China into the world, and the world into China.
The subject of sex was central to early Chinese thought. Discussed openly and seriously as a fundamental topic of human speculation, it was an important source of imagery and terminology that informed the classical Chinese conception of social and political relationships. This sophisticated and long-standing tradition, however, has been all but neglected by modern historians. In The Culture of Sex in Ancient China, Paul Rakita Goldin addresses central issues in the history of Chinese attitudes toward sex and gender from 500 B.C. to A.D. 400. A survey of major pre-imperial sources, including some of the most revered and influential texts in the Chinese tradition, reveals the use of the image of copulation as a metaphor for various human relations, such as those between a worshiper and his or her deity or a ruler and his subjects. In his examination of early Confucian views of women, Goldin notes that, while contradictions and ambiguities existed in the articulation of these views, women were nevertheless regarded as full participants in the Confucian project of self-transformation. He goes on to show how assumptions concerning the relationship of sexual behavior to political activity (assumptions reinforced by the habitual use of various literary tropes discussed earlier in the book) led to increasing attempts to regulate sexual behavior throughout the Han dynasty. Following the fall of the Han, this ideology was rejected by the aristocracy, who continually resisted claims of sovereignty made by impotent emperors in a succession of short-lived dynasties. Erudite and immensely entertaining, this study of intellectual conceptions of sex and sexuality in China will be welcomed by students and scholars of early China and by those with an interest in the comparative development of ancient cultures.