In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 197 5.He Zhiqing, in an important article not cited in Murray's book, raises questions about the reliability ofthis memorial; see "Lun Wula'na deng zouzhe you guan Tiandihui qiyuan de jizai" (On Wula'na's memorial concerning the origins ofthe Tiandihui), in Bai Shouyi, ed., Qingshiguoji xueshu taolunhui lunwenji (Shenyang: Liaoning Renmin Chubanshe, 1990), pp. 259-273. 6.Zeng Wuyue, "Tiandihui chuangshiren ji qihui niandai kaozheng" (A critical examination ofthe founder and founding date ofthe Tiandihui), Dongnan wenhua (Nanjing) 1 (1993): 256-264. 7.See Ter Haar's chapter in the Ownby and Heidhues book mentioned above. 8.Lu Baoqian, cited in Zeng Wuyue, mentioned above, p. 48. 9.Murray also points out the need for a study ofthe Japanese historiography (p. 179). A start in that direction has been provided by Song Jun, who is at the Qing History Institute of People's University, in an unpublished article, "Riben xuezhe guanyu Qing dai huidang shi de yanjiu" (A study ofJapanese scholars on secret societies in the Qing period), Second International Conference on Chinese Secret Societies, Beijing, October 1988. Dian Murray provided me with a copy ofthis paper, but does not list it in her bibliography. David Ownby and Mary Somers Heidhues, editors. "Secret Societies" Reconsidered : Perspectives on the Social History ofEarly Modern South China and Southeast Asia. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1993. x, 259 pp. Hardcover $59.95. Paperback $22.50. This volume grew out ofa panel at an annual meeting of the Association ofAsian Studies diat brought together scholars from Australia, Europe, and North America, specializing in both China and Southeast Asia, to discuss new research on Chinese "secret societies" (hui).1 Unlike some collections ofpapers that leave the impression that the contributors are oblivious to each other's work, the nine chapters in this book have obviously been revised to reflect understandings and insights developed in the wake ofthe original conference. While not speaking in absolute unison, the contributors largely agree in their assessment of the functions and significance ofsecret societies in early modern China and nineteenth-century Chinese immigrant communities. This general concord strengthens die impression that a significant new picture of these groups is being developed. Further-© 1995 by University more, by examining the rather different patterns ofgrowth and evolution shown ofHawai'i Pressby secret societies in South China and in immigrant communities in Southeast Asia, the authors are able to formulate new insights into the nature of the societies as they developed widiin China, seeing them largely as a response to the dis- 198 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 ruptions and dislocations of "early modern China" by die broad masses ofnonelite Chinese men. When the circumstances were right, these men employed die organizational methods, rituals, and ideologies diat had been developed over the previous centuries by outwardly harmless, generally apolitical voluntary brotherhood associations to create a new breed ofpredatory and sometimes rebellious secret societies. The first chapter, by David Ownby, provides die rationale for the book, by giving an overview ofpast studies and a description ofhow die chapters to follow diverge from previous scholarly understandings. While die scholarship of those Republican period writers who saw secret societies as anti-Manchu nationalists was once considered state-of-die-art, the belief that secret societies were primarily organized to express opposition to the Manchus is no longer tenable. Similarly the tendency of Jean Chesneaux and like-minded researchers to depict secret societies as primitive revolutionary organizations no longer holds up under scrutiny. Unlike earlier generations ofresearchers, the contributors to this book have been able to take full advantage of die historical archives in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. They believe tìiat secret societies can best be understood when clearly placed in their historical, social, and economic contexts. This contextualization of secret societies reveals the complexity and diversity of the hundreds of Chinese organizations that are lumped togedier as hui. Since one definition cannot possibly do justice to all the groups collectively called secret societies, the authors do not provide any definition at all. In fact, despite what might be inferred from the book's title, the authors do not attempt to treat the...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 197-201
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.