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Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era
This ambitious book looks into the reasons for the exceptional durability of the Chinese empire, which lasted for more than two millennia (221 BCE–1911 CE). Yuri Pines identifies the roots of the empire’s longevity in the activities of thinkers of the Warring States period (453–221 BCE), who, in their search for solutions to an ongoing political crisis, developed ideals, values, and perceptions that would become essential for the future imperial polity. In marked distinction to similar empires worldwide, the Chinese empire was envisioned and to a certain extent "preplanned" long before it came into being. As a result, it was not only a military and administrative construct, but also an intellectual one. Pines makes the argument that it was precisely its ideological appeal that allowed the survival and regeneration of the empire after repeated periods of turmoil.
Envisioning Eternal Empire presents a panoptic survey of philosophical and social conflicts in Warring States political culture. By examining the extant corpus of preimperial literature, including transmitted texts and manuscripts uncovered at archaeological sites, Pines locates the common ideas of competing thinkers that underlie their ideological controversies. This bold approach allows him to transcend the once fashionable perspective of competing "schools of thought" and show that beneath the immense pluralism of Warring States thought one may identify common ideological choices that eventually shaped traditional Chinese political culture. The result is a refreshingly novel look at the foundational period in Chinese intellectual history.
Pines’ analysis of the political thought of the period focuses on the thinkers’ perceptions of three main components of the preimperial and imperial polity: the ruler, the elite, and the commoners. Regarding each of them, he identifies both the common ground and unresolved intrinsic tensions of Warring States discourse. Thus, while thinkers staunchly supported the idea of the omnipotent universal monarch, they were also aware of the mediocrity and ineptitude of acting sovereigns. They were committed to a career in government yet feared to compromise their integrity in service of corrupt rulers. They declared their dedication to "the people" yet firmly opposed the lower strata’s input in political processes. Pines asserts that the persistence of these unresolved tensions eventually became one of the most important assets of China’s political culture. The ensuing imperial political system was not excessively rigid, but sufficiently flexible to adapt itself to a variety of domestic and foreign pressures. This remarkable adaptability within the constant ideological framework contributed decisively to the empire’s longevity.
The Tales of Mulian and Woman Huang
Translations of two late-19th-century Chinese scrolls featuring popular religious literature in alternating verse and prose designed to both entertain and instruct. Graphic portrayals of the underworld; dramatization of popular Buddhist beliefs about death, salvation, and rebirth; and frank discussions of the demands of filial piety as well as women's perceived responsibility for sin will intrigue a contemporary audience.
This collection of twenty-one articles represents some of the major writings by one of the United States' leading Sinologists, Derk Bodde.
Originally published in 1982.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
The Political Culture of Ancient China and Its Imperial Legacy
Established in 221 BCE, the Chinese empire lasted for 2,132 years before being replaced by the Republic of China in 1912. During its two millennia, the empire endured internal wars, foreign incursions, alien occupations, and devastating rebellions--yet fundamental institutional, sociopolitical, and cultural features of the empire remained intact. The Everlasting Empire traces the roots of the Chinese empire's exceptional longevity and unparalleled political durability, and shows how lessons from the imperial past are relevant for China today.
Yuri Pines demonstrates that the empire survived and adjusted to a variety of domestic and external challenges through a peculiar combination of rigid ideological premises and their flexible implementation. The empire's major political actors and neighbors shared its fundamental ideological principles, such as unity under a single monarch--hence, even the empire's strongest domestic and foreign foes adopted the system of imperial rule. Yet details of this rule were constantly negotiated and adjusted. Pines shows how deep tensions between political actors including the emperor, the literati, local elites, and rebellious commoners actually enabled the empire's basic institutional framework to remain critically vital and adaptable to ever-changing sociopolitical circumstances. As contemporary China moves toward a new period of prosperity and power in the twenty-first century, Pines argues that the legacy of the empire may become an increasingly important force in shaping the nation's future trajectory.
The Archaeology of Early Chinese Religion
In Excavating the Afterlife, Guolong Lai explores the dialectical relationship between sociopolitical change and mortuary religion from an archaeological perspective. By examining burial structure, grave goods, and religious documents unearthed from groups of well-preserved tombs in southern China, Lai shows that new attitudes toward the dead, resulting from the trauma of violent political struggle and warfare, permanently altered the early Chinese conceptions of this world and the afterlife. The book grounds the important changes in religious beliefs and ritual practices firmly in the sociopolitical transition from the Warring States (ca. 453–221 BCE) to the early empires (3rd century–1st century BCE). A methodologically sophisticated synthesis of archaeological, art historical, and textual sources, Excavating the Afterlife will be of interest to art historians, archaeologists, and textual scholars of China, as well as to students of comparative religions.
Praise for the first edition:
"... in the great tradition of Orwell and Solzhenitsyn; its true subject is the survival -- and sometimes the defeat -- of the human spirit in its lonely quest for integrity." -- Time
"The almost childlike directness of Chen's tales... is captured in the very lightly revised translations of this new edition... Highly recommended." -- Choice
A classic of modern world literature, this collection of stories provides a vivid and poignant eyewitness view of everyday life in China during the Cultural Revolution. For this edition, Howard Goldblatt has thoroughly revised the text and updated it to Pinyin romanization. In a new introduction, Perry Link reflects on the book's significance in the post-Tiananmen era. Twenty-five years after its first publication, The Execution of Mayor Yin has lost none of its power to move the reader, and remains unmatched as a document of the period.
Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China
During the Mao era, China’s museums served an explicit and uniform propaganda function, underlining official Party history, eulogizing revolutionary heroes, and contributing to nation building and socialist construction. With the implementation of the post-Mao modernization program in the late 1970s and 1980s and the advent of globalization and market reforms in the 1990s, China underwent a radical social and economic transformation that has led to a vastly more heterogeneous culture and polity. Yet China is dominated by a single Leninist party that continues to rely heavily on its revolutionary heritage to generate political legitimacy. With its messages of collectivism, self-sacrifice, and class struggle, that heritage is increasingly at odds with Chinese society and with the state’s own neoliberal ideology of rapid-paced development, glorification of the market, and entrepreneurship. In this ambiguous political environment, museums and their curators must negotiate between revolutionary ideology and new kinds of historical narratives that reflect and highlight a neoliberal present.
In Exhibiting the Past, Kirk Denton analyzes types of museums and exhibitionary spaces, from revolutionary history museums, military museums, and memorials to martyrs to museums dedicated to literature, ethnic minorities, and local history. He discusses red tourism—a state sponsored program developed in 2003 as a new form of patriotic education designed to make revolutionary history come alive—and urban planning exhibition halls, which project utopian visions of China’s future that are rooted in new conceptions of the past. Denton’s method is narratological in the sense that he analyzes the stories museums tell about the past and the political and ideological implications of those stories. Focusing on “official” exhibitionary culture rather than alternative or counter memory, Denton reinserts the state back into the discussion of postsocialist culture because of its centrality to that culture and to show that state discourse in China is neither monolithic nor unchanging. The book considers the variety of ways state museums are responding to the dramatic social, technological, and cultural changes China has experienced over the past three decades.
Reminiscences by David Akers-Jones
This is a book for everyone with an interest in the recent history of Hong Kong and in an exceptional man who played a major part in that history as he ploughed a distinctive and individual, and sometimes controversial, path from District Officer to Acting Governor to Hong Kong Affairs Advisor.