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114 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 seas, when in fact it, too, came as a loan word from Cantonese, in which its pronunciation diksi is much nearer to its English origins. The very recent colloquial "Canto-Mandarin" expression da di ÌT tf] (hire a taxi) is listed as a simple "VO," when it probably should be labeled "topo'V'loan." Also, miandi ft &) (minivan taxi) is defined not by its English meaning, but as "AB. mianbao dishi." Ifthe user checks under mianbao, s/he will find "bread," which, followed by "taxi," will not lead the average student to envision a minivan taxi. The reference should be to mianbaoche, which is literally a "bread-loaf car." But these are petty points, merely meizhong-buzu jfe T- ^A (defined in ABC as "blemish in sdì. otherwise perfect") that should not detract from the great value of this important work. John DeFrancis, his Associate Editors, the Editorial Board, and Computer Associates are all to be congratulated for their roles in producing this dictionary, which is quite likely to become a standard reference work for English-speaking students of Mandarin, and to remain so for quite some time. Jan W. Walls Simon Fraser University Jan Walls is a professor ofChinese language and culture specializing in cross-cultural communication. Prasenjit Duara. Rescuing Historyfrom the Nation: Questioning Narratives ofModern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. x, 275 pp. Hardcover $32.00, isbn O-226-16721-6. History has been told and understood primarily within the narrative of the nation -state. We read about Indian history, Chinese history, German history, and so on, usually presupposing that these histories are about a homogeneous subject, namely the nation-state. Prasenjit Duara, in his Rescuing Historyfrom the Nation, deconstructs this idea ofhistory, by tracing the histories marginalized by the discourse of nation-state. His book begins by critically examining the Hegelian conception of History, which posits the nation-state as its only subject. According to Hegel, groups of ,-. ,„„„ ,,t-people, tribes, and other communities are outside History if they do not form na-© 1998 by University ft-''' ' ofHawai'i Presstions. It is precisely for this reason that Hegel asserts that China and India are both outside History. Duara rejects this Hegelian notion of History as a linear progression that necessarily entails the nation-state as subject, and argues that the Reviews 115 nation does not represent a "unitary consciousness or identity" (p. 7). Instead, it signifies the site where different and often conflicting narratives ofcommunity struggle for mastery and control. It is increasingly the case that the linear model ofhistory and the concept ofnationhood, both ofwhich originated in the West, pervade the globe, but this is a contingent fact, and does not necessarily represent the best of all possible worlds. Duara examines how Chinese intellectuals were seduced by the narrative of modernity and eventually used this narrative to evaluate their own tradition. Because the Chinese interpreted themselves within the narrative ofHistory, which is a Western invention, the histories they tell cannot be understood as purely Chinese: From the first years ofthe twentieth century, many ofthe historical actors we study themselves sought to narrate their history in the linear, teleological mode and thus performatively propel Chinese history into the progress ofuniversal History. . . . The purpose ofthis book is not to recover an uncontaminated, originary history ofChina, but to locate the site where narratives, indeed layers of narrative, seek to appropriate or wrestle with the historical real, which, of course, cannot be meaningfully known except through narrative symbolizations . (p. 27) This passage simultaneously touches on many theoretical issues, and so we must proceed slowly. Without lapsing into relativism, on an epistemological level, Duara criticizes the positivist interpretation ofhistory. He undermines the idea that we could have access to a historical event uncontaminated by our own imposition of a narrative. According to Duara, history is coproduced by the historian, in response to the historical real. This problem is more complicated in Duara's book because he is, in part, writing a history of Chinese historiography. As Ronald Bontekoe notes: "in dealing with narrative our hermeneutical task is, in a sense doubled. We must ofcourse, interpret the narrative text, but...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 114-119
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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