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Exhibiting the Past Cover

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Exhibiting the Past

Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China

Kirk A. Denton

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.

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Familiar Strangers

A History of Muslims in Northwest China

by Jonathan N. Lipman

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Feeling the Stones

Reminiscences by David Akers-Jones

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.

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Fiery Cinema

The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915–1945

Weihong Bao

What was cinema in modern China? It was, this book tells us, a dynamic entity, not strictly tied to one media technology, one mode of operation, or one system of aesthetic code. It was, in Weihong Bao’s term, an affective medium, a distinct notion of the medium as mediating environment with the power to stir passions, frame perception, and mold experience. In Fiery Cinema, Bao traces the permutations of this affective medium from the early through the mid-twentieth century, exploring its role in aesthetics, politics, and social institutions.

Mapping the changing identity of cinema in China in relation to Republican-era print media, theatrical performance, radio broadcasting, television, and architecture, Bao has created an archaeology of Chinese media culture. Within this context, she grounds the question of spectatorial affect and media technology in China’s experience of mechanized warfare, colonial modernity, and the shaping of the public into consumers, national citizens, and a revolutionary collective subject. Carrying on a close conversation with transnational media theory and history, she teases out the tension and affinity between vernacular, political modernist, and propagandistic articulations of mass culture in China’s varied participation in modernity.

Fiery Cinema advances a radical rethinking of affect and medium as a key insight into the relationship of cinema to the public sphere and the making of the masses. By centering media politics in her inquiry of the forgotten future of cinema, Bao makes a major intervention into the theory and history of media.

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The First Chinese American

The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo

SCOTT D. SELIGMAN

Chinese in America endured abuse and discrimination in the late nineteenth century, but they had a leader and a fighter in Wong Chin Foo (1847–1898), whose story is a forgotten chapter in the struggle for equal rights in America. The first to use the term "Chinese American," Wong defended his compatriots against malicious scapegoating and urged them to become Americanized to win their rights. A trailblazer and a born showman who proclaimed himself China's first Confucian missionary to the United States, he founded America's first association of Chinese voters and testified before Congress to get laws that denied them citizenship repealed. Wong challenged Americans to live up to the principles they freely espoused but failed to apply to the Chinese in their midst. This evocative biography is the first book-length account of the life and times of one of America's most famous Chinese—and one of its earliest campaigners for racial equality.

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Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

Edited by Peter Lorge

The period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960) has long been treated as an anomaly in the history of China, an age of great disunity between the empires of the Tang and the Song dynasties. Breaking with previous scholarship on China's middle period, this edited volume presents individual studies that focus on the art, culture, and politics of the interregnum, challenging underlying assumptions about the unitary nature of dynastic culture and its value as a category of historical analysis. It understands these decades as a time of important transition in which the incipient cultural shifts of the mature Tang dynasty turned into the foundations of Song society. Consequently it highlights the complex narrative processes that gave birth to Song culture.

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Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China

By E. N. Anderson

Chinese food is one of the most recognizable and widely consumed cuisines in the world. Almost no town on earth is without a Chinese restaurant of some kind, and Chinese canned, frozen, and preserved foods are available in shops from Nairobi to Quito. But the particulars of Chinese cuisine vary widely from place to place as its major ingredients and techniques have been adapted to local agriculture and taste profiles. To trace the roots of Chinese foodways, one must look back to traditional food systems before the early days of globalization.

Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China provides an account of the development of the food systems that coincided with China's emergence as an empire. Before extensive trade and cultural exchange with Europe was established, Chinese farmers and agriculturalists developed systems that used resources in sustainable and efficient ways, permitting intensive and productive techniques to survive over millennia. Fields, gardens, semiwild lands, managed forests, and specialized agricultural landscapes all became part of an integrated network that produced maximum nutrients with minimal input—though not without some environmental cost. E. N. Anderson examines premodern China's vast, active network of trade and contact, such as the routes from Central Asia to Eurasia and the slow introduction of Western foods and medicines under the Mongol Empire. Bringing together a number of new findings from archaeology, history, and field studies of environmental management, Food and Environment in Early and Medieval China provides an updated picture of language relationships, cultural innovations, and intercultural exchanges.

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Forgotten Souls

A Social History of the Hong Kong Cemetery

Patricia Lim

This book follows on from the mapping and recording of the about 10,000 graves that make up the Hong Kong Cemetery for a database which will be held in the archives of the Hong Kong Memory Project and the Royal Asiatic Society among other places. The silent tombs and elegantly carved inscriptions dating from 1842 up to the present day aroused curiosity in the author about who these long-buried people were and how they lived their lives. Lim has teased out from many sources the answers to these questions. This small, alien and rather disparate band of adventurers came from a number of far distant countries to live and work in the tiny and insignificant British foothold of Hong Kong on the edge of a huge and little understood empire. The book tries to show their relationships with each other and with their Chinese neighbours on the island. It has attempted to breathe life into the stories behind the gravestones so that the Hong Kong Cemetery can be viewed as a cradle of history as well as a final resting place for the dead.

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Foundations of Confucian Thought

Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu period (722453 B.C.E.)

Yuri Pines

This ambitious work focuses on the world of Chinese thought during the two and a half centuries directly preceding and partly overlapping the time of Confucius. Ideas developed by Chunqiu statesmen and thinkers formed the intellectual milieu of Confucius and his disciples and contributed directly to the intellectual flowering of the Zhanguo (Warring States) era (453-221 B.C.E.), the formative period of the Chinese intellectual tradition. This study is the first attempt to systematically reconstruct major intellectual trends in pre-Confucian China. Foundations of Confucian Thought is based on an exploration of the Zuo zhuan, the largest pre-imperial historical text. Relying on meticulous textual and linguistic analysis, Yuri Pines argues that hundreds of the speeches of Chunqiu statesmen recorded in the Zuo zhuan were not invented by the compiler of the treatise but reproduced from earlier sources, thus making it an authentic reflection of the Chunqiu intellectual tradition. By tracing changes in ideas and concepts throughout the Chunqiu period, Pines reconstructs the dynamics of contemporary political and ethical discourse, distilling major intellectual impulses that Chunqiu thinkers bequeathed to their Zhanguo descendants.

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Friends and Teachers

Hong Kong and Its People 1953-87

James Hayes

The book covers several decades of Hong Kong's recent past, from the time James Hayes joined the Administrative Grade of the Hong Kong Civil Service in the 1950s to his retirement in the 1980s, thirty-two years later.

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