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134 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998© 1998 by University ofHawai'i Press So much for Western understanding ofAsian revolutionaries. It is little wonder that Americans had difficulty seeing Ho Chi Minh as a Vietnamese Nationalist. As cultural studies of this sort go, Fitzgerald has written a comparatively lucid work. Still, it is not for the faindiearted. Those willing to accompany him on his intellectual expedition will find plenty of interesting things to think about along the way. I recommend this book. William Wei University of Colorado at Boulder William Wei is a professor ofhistory specializing in modern Chinese history and Asian American history. m Christiane Hammer and Bernhard Führer, editors. Chinesisches Selbstverst ändnis und kulturelle Identität: "Wenhua Zhongguo" [Chinese self-image and cultural identity: "Wenhua Zhongguo"]. Edition Cathay, vol. 22. Projekt Verlag, 1996. 242 pp. Paperback DM 28.00, isbn 3-928861-70-0. Time and again Chinese history has witnessed heated debates on what precisely makes the Chinese "Chinese." Most prominently, the revitalization of Confucianism as die basic constituent of Chineseness often became equated with Chinese culture as such. Including as well as transgressing ethnic, territorial, political, and historical boundaries, this collection of fourteen lectures, given at the sixth annual meeting of die German Association for Chinese Studies in Berlin in 1995, presents Chinese perceptions of self and culture as constant processes of negotiating individual and collective identity. The collection under review here offers a potpourri of different essays tracing Chinese self-image and cultural identity as formulated in philosophical, literary, and political texts in botii premodern and modern China, ranging from the Former Han dynasty up to present times; thus they are implicitly following what Tu Wei-ming propagated as "Cultural China." Unfortunately, the reader is somewhat at a loss ifhe or she expects an introductory note illuminating the controversial issue of "Cultural China" or a contextualization of the multilayered concepts of "identity," "image," and "culture" within cultural theory. Due to the vast variety ofhistorical times, persons, and topics, one wishes that die texts would interrelate or be juxtaposed in one way or another, but the editors have decided to arrange the essays in chronological order as a conference reader. Nevertheless, Reviews 135 most ofthe contributions fully deserve to be studied in their own right, reminding the reader that wenhua Zhongguo is far from being a limited catchword ofthe debate during the 1980s when Chinese intellectuals were "seeking their roots" and burning with "cultural fever." Drawing on sources from the Former Han, Reinhard Emmerich, for example , demonstrates that the Qin and Han dynasties might well have entered history as symbols ofthe unification ofthe empire but that their territories continuously were endangered by numerous internal upheavals and by feuds with their northern neighbors, the Xiongnu. The author illustrates that contrary to one's expectations , the existence ofa common foreign enemy did not necessarily lead to a common notion ofwhat defines the Chinese empire. Rather, Chinese foreign policy during the Former Han dynasty indicates the existence ofalternating phases ofseparation, integration, and confrontation, reflecting different ways of perceiving the outside as well as die internal Chinese world. Not so much a collective but rather an individual identity is at issue in the second essay, by Bernhard Führer. The author is making use ofrhetoric as a means for decoding texts in which the great historian Sima Qian portrays himself. Führer explores the hidden but clearly alluded meaning where the court scribe links himself strongly to the tradition oflamenting Qu Yuan. Not only does the essay offer a new reading ofSima Qian, but the described practice oftraditional self-positioning easily could be extended to die self-perception oftoday's writers —be it personal frustration (or, in the case ofSima Qian, castration) transformed into literary creativity or the paradigm ofthe unrecognized genius making his way tiirough all-embracing ignorance. In a very different approach, Susanne Ettl-Hornfeck shows how contemporary writer Yang Mu positions himself into what ostensibly constitutes Chinese culture. She describes his work as in a way paradigmatic for what constitutes die Chinese cultural self-image when she follows in the tracks of this Taiwanese poet on his way to locations ofliterary significance in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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