University of Pennsylvania Press

Encounters with Asia

Victor H. Mair, Series Editor

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Encounters with Asia

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Asian Medicine and Globalization

Edited by Joseph S. Alter

Medical systems function in specific cultural contexts. It is common to speak of the medicine of China, Japan, India, and other nation-states. Yet almost all formalized medical systems claim universal applicability and, thus, are ready to cross the cultural boundaries that contain them. There is a critical tension, in theory and practice, in the ways regional medical systems are conceptualized as "nationalistic" or inherently transnational. This volume is concerned with questions and problems created by the friction between nationalism and transnationalism at a time when globalization has greatly complicated the notion of cultural, political, and economic boundedness.

Offering a range of perspectives, the contributors address questions such as: How do states concern themselves with the modernization of "traditional" medicine? How does the global hegemony of science enable the nationalist articulation of alternative medicine? How do global discourses of science and "new age" spirituality facilitate the transnationalization of "Asian" medicine? As more and more Asian medical practices cross boundaries into Western culture through the popularity of yoga and herbalism, and as Western medicine finds its way east, these systems of meaning become inextricably interrelated. These essays consider the larger implications of transmissions between cultures.

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The Birth of Orientalism

By Urs App

Modern Orientalism is not a brainchild of nineteenth-century European imperialists and colonialists, but, as Urs App demonstrates, was born in the eighteenth century after a very long gestation period defined less by economic or political motives than by religious ideology.

Based on sources from a dozen languages, many unavailable in English, The Birth of Orientalism presents a completely new picture of this protracted genesis, its underlying dynamics, and the Western discovery of Asian religions from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. App documents the immense influence of Japan and China and describes how the Near Eastern cradle of civilization moved toward mother India. Moreover, he shows that some of India's purportedly oldest texts were products of eighteenth-century European authors.

Though Western engagement with non-Abrahamic Asian religions reaches back to antiquity and can without exaggeration be called the largest-scale religiocultural encounter in history, it has so far received surprisingly little attention—which is why some of its major features and their role in the birth of modern Orientalism are described here for the first time. The study of Asian documents had a profound impact on Europe's intellectual makeup. Suddenly the Bible had much older competitors from China and India, Sanskrit threatened to replace Hebrew as the world's oldest language, and Judeo-Christianity appeared as a local phenomenon on a dramatically expanded, worldwide canvas of religions and mythologies. Orientalists were called upon as arbiters in a clash that involved neither gold and spices nor colonialism and imperialism but, rather, such fundamental questions as where we come from and who we are: questions of identity that demanded new answers as biblical authority dramatically waned.

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The Blacks of Premodern China

By Don J. Wyatt

Premodern Chinese described a great variety of the peoples they encountered as "black." The earliest and most frequent of these encounters were with their Southeast Asian neighbors, specifically the Malayans. But by the midimperial times of the seventh through seventeenth centuries C.E., exposure to peoples from Africa, chiefly slaves arriving from the area of modern Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania, gradually displaced the original Asian "blacks" in Chinese consciousness. In The Blacks of Premodern China, Don J. Wyatt presents the previously unexamined story of the earliest Chinese encounters with this succession of peoples they have historically regarded as black.

A series of maritime expeditions along the East African coastline during the early fifteenth century is by far the best known and most documented episode in the story of China's premodern interaction with African blacks. Just as their Western contemporaries had, the Chinese aboard the ships that made landfall in Africa encountered peoples whom they frequently classified as savages. Yet their perceptions of the blacks they met there differed markedly from those of earlier observers at home in that there was little choice but to regard the peoples encountered as free.

The premodern saga of dealings between Chinese and blacks concludes with the arrival in China of Portuguese and Spanish traders and Italian clerics with their black slaves in tow. In Chinese writings of the time, the presence of the slaves of the Europeans becomes known only through sketchy mentions of black bondservants. Nevertheless, Wyatt argues that the story of these late premodern blacks, laboring anonymously in China under their European masters, is but a more familiar extension of the previously untold story of their ancestors who toiled in Chinese servitude perhaps in excess of a millennium earlier.

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Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road

By Johan Elverskog

In the contemporary world the meeting of Buddhism and Islam is most often imagined as one of violent confrontation. Indeed, the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001 seemed not only to reenact the infamous Muslim destruction of Nalanda monastery in the thirteenth century but also to reaffirm the stereotypes of Buddhism as a peaceful, rational philosophy and Islam as an inherently violent and irrational religion. But if Buddhist-Muslim history was simply repeated instances of Muslim militants attacking representations of the Buddha, how had the Bamiyan Buddha statues survived thirteen hundred years of Muslim rule?

Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road demonstrates that the history of Buddhist-Muslim interaction is much richer and more complex than many assume. This groundbreaking book covers Inner Asia from the eighth century through the Mongol empire and to the end of the Qing dynasty in the late nineteenth century. By exploring the meetings between Buddhists and Muslims along the Silk Road from Iran to China over more than a millennium, Johan Elverskog reveals that this long encounter was actually one of profound cross-cultural exchange in which two religious traditions were not only enriched but transformed in many ways.

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China in the Early Bronze Age

Shang Civilization

By Robert L. Thorp

One of the great breakthroughs in Chinese studies in the early twentieth century was the archaeological identification of the earliest, fully historical dynasty of kings, the Shang (ca. 1300-1050 B.C.E.). The last fifty years have seen major advances in all areas of Chinese archaeology, but recent studies of the Shang, their ancestors, and their contemporaries have been especially rich. Since the last English-language overview of Shang civilization appeared in 1980, the pace of discovery has quickened. China in the Early Bronze Age: Shang Civilization is the first work in twenty-five years to synthesize current knowledge of the Shang for everyone interested in the origins of Chinese civilization.

China in the Early Bronze Age traces the development of early Bronze Age cultures in North and Northwestern China from about 2000 B.C.E., including the Erlitou culture (often identified with the Xia) and the Erligang culture. Robert L. Thorp introduces major sites, their architectural remains, burials, and material culture, with special attention to jades and bronze. He reviews the many discoveries near Anyang, site of two capitals of the Shang kings. In addition to the topography of these sites, Thorp discusses elite crafts and devotes a chapter to the Shang cult, its divination practices, and its rituals. The volume concludes with a survey of the late Shang world, cultures contemporary with Anyang during the late second millennium B.C.E. Fully documented with references to Chinese archaeological sources and illustrated with more than one hundred line drawings, China in the Early Bronze Age also includes informative sidebars on related topics and suggested readings.

Students of the history and archaeology of early civilizations will find China in the Early Bronze Age the most up-to-date and wide-ranging introduction to its topic now in print. Scholars in Chinese studies will use this work as a handbook and research guide. This volume makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the formative stages of Chinese culture.

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Ethnic Identity in Tang China

By Marc S. Abramson

Ethnic Identity in Tang China is the first work in any language to explore comprehensively the construction of ethnicity during the dynasty that reigned over China for roughly three centuries, from 618 to 907. Often viewed as one of the most cosmopolitan regimes in China's past, the Tang had roots in Inner Asia, and its rulers continued to have complex relationships with a population that included Turks, Tibetans, Japanese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, Persians, and Arabs.

Marc S. Abramson's rich portrait of this complex, multiethnic empire draws on political writings, religious texts, and other cultural artifacts, as well as comparative examples from other empires and frontiers. Abramson argues that various constituencies, ranging from Confucian elites to Buddhist monks to "barbarian" generals, sought to define ethnic boundaries for various reasons but often in part out of discomfort with the ambiguity of their own ethnic and cultural identity. The Tang court, meanwhile, alternately sought to absorb some alien populations to preserve the empire's integrity while seeking to preserve the ethnic distinctiveness of other groups whose particular skills it valued. Abramson demonstrates how the Tang era marked a key shift in definitions of China and the Chinese people, a shift that ultimately laid the foundation for the emergence of the modern Chinese nation.

Ethnic Identity in Tang China sheds new light on one of the most important periods in Chinese history. It also offers broader insights on East Asian and Inner Asian history, the history of ethnicity, and the comparative history of frontiers and empires.

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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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India in the Chinese Imagination

Myth, Religion, and Thought

Edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar

India and China dominate the Asian continent, but the two lands are separated by formidable geographic barriers and language differences. For many centuries, most of the information that passed between the two countries came through Silk Route intermediaries in lieu of first-person encounters—leaving considerable room for invention. From their introduction to Indian culture in the first centuries C.E., Chinese thinkers, writers, artists, and architects imitated India within their own borders, giving Indian images and ideas new forms and adapting them to their own culture. Yet India's impact on China has not been greatly researched or well understood.

India in the Chinese Imagination takes a new look at how the Chinese embedded India in diverse artifacts of Chinese religious, cultural, artistic, and material life in the premodern era. Leading Asian studies scholars explore the place of Indian myths and storytelling in Chinese literature, the ways Chinese authors integrated Indian history into their conception of the political and religious past, and the philosophical relationships between Indian Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, and Daoism. This multifaceted volume, illustrated with over a dozen works of art, reveals the depth and subtlety of the encounter between India and China, shedding light on what it means to imagine another culture—and why it matters.

Contributors: Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Bernard Faure, John Kieschnick, Victor H. Mair, John R. McRae, Christine Mollier, Meir Shahar, Robert H. Sharf, Nobuyoshi Yamabe, Ye Derong, Shi Zhiru.

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Multicultural China in the Early Middle Ages

By Sanping Chen

In contrast to the economic and cultural dominance by the south and the east coast over the past several centuries, influence in China in the early Middle Ages was centered in the north and featured a significantly multicultural society. Many events that were profoundly formative for the future of East Asian civilization occurred during this period, although much of this multiculturalism has long been obscured due to the Confucian monopoly of written records. Multicultural China in the Early Middle Ages endeavors to expose a number of long-hidden non-Sinitic characteristics and manifestations of heritage, some lasting to this very day.

Sanping Chen investigates several foundational aspects of Chinese culture during this period, including the legendary unicorn and the fabled heroine Mulan, to determine the origin and development of the lore. His meticulous research yields surprising results. For instance, he finds that the character Mulan is not of Chinese origin and that Central Asian influences are to be found in language, religion, governance, and other fundamental characteristics of Chinese culture. As Victor Mair writes in the Foreword, "While not everyone will acquiesce in the entirety of Dr. Chen's findings, no reputable scholar can afford to ignore them with impunity."

These "foreign"-origin elements were largely the legacy of the Tuoba, whose descendants in fact dominated China's political and cultural stage for nearly a millennium. Long before the Mongols, the Tuoba set a precedent for "using the civilized to rule the civilized" by attracting a large number of sedentary Central Asians to East Asia. This not only added a strong pre-Islamic Iranian layer to the contemporary Sinitic culture but also commenced China's golden age under the cosmopolitan Tang dynasty, whose nominally "Chinese" ruling house is revealed by Chen to be the biological and cultural heir of the Tuoba.

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The Prehistory of the Silk Road

E. E. Kuzmina. Edited by Victor H. Mair

In ancient and medieval times, the Silk Road was of great importance to the transport of peoples, goods, and ideas between the East and the West. A vast network of trade routes, it connected the diverse geographies and populations of China, the Eurasian Steppe, Central Asia, India, Western Asia, and Europe. Although its main use was for importing silk from China, traders moving in the opposite direction carried to China jewelry, glassware, and other exotic goods from the Mediterranean, jade from Khotan, and horses and furs from the nomads of the Steppe. In both directions, technology and ideologies were transmitted. The Silk Road brought together the achievements of the different peoples of Eurasia to advance the Old World as a whole.

The majority of the Silk Road routes passed through the Eurasian Steppe, whose nomadic people were participants and mediators in its economic and cultural exchanges. Until now, the origins of these routes and relationships have not been examined in great detail. In The Prehistory of the Silk Road, E. E. Kuzmina, renowned Russian archaeologist, looks at the history of this crucial area before the formal establishment of Silk Road trade and diplomacy. From the late Neolithic period to the early Bronze Age, Kuzmina traces the evolution of the material culture of the Steppe and the contact between civilizations that proved critical to the development of the widespread trade that would follow, including nomadic migrations, the domestication and use of the horse and the camel, and the spread of wheeled transport.

The Prehistory of the Silk Road combines detailed research in archaeology with evidence from physical anthropology, linguistics, and other fields, incorporating both primary and secondary sources from a range of languages, including a vast accumulation of Russian-language scholarship largely untapped in the West. The book is complemented by an extensive bibliography that will be of great use to scholars.

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