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142 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 Gail Hershatter, Emily Honig, Jonathan N. Lipman, and Randall Stress, editors. Remapping China: Fissures in Historical Terrain. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996. vii, 333 pp. Hardcover $45.00, isbn 08047 -2509-8. Paperback $17.95, isbn 0-8047-2510-1. As the tide implies, this is a book about boundaries—about challenging them, transgressing them, redefining them, and simply erasing diem. It is also about misleading "signposts"—cherished schémas and dramatic "turning points" that obscure rather than reveal the lay of the land. The date 1949, for instance, comes under especially close scrutiny as a vulnerable historical marker. Inspired by theoretical perspectives drawn from many different disciplines and representing many different political, social, and intellectual agendas, the essays in this volume cover a wide range of territory. Although they are of somewhat uneven quality, they demonstrate beyond question that the recent inclusion ofcertain groups that were formerly excluded from "dominant narratives" (because of scholarly prejudices based on race, class, gender, or sexual preference) "did not just add color or sex or picturesque rowdiness to history; they altered the whole." The overarching theme of this volume is to beware ofoverarching themes. The editors—who, like all the contributors, are former graduate students of Professors Harold Kahn and Lyman Van Slyke at Stanford—have organized their volume around three major topics: "Bodies," "Boundaries," and "Signposts." These themes are—dare I say?—bounded by two highly personal essays. One is a strikingly lyrical opening piece by Vera Schwarcz, "How to Make Time Real: From Intellectual History to Embodied Memory," in which she explores the complex , ever-shifting relationship between individual memory and shared history. The other is a reminiscence by Randall Stross, "Field Notes from the Present," which focuses on the shifting interpretative sands that blur the conventional territorial distinctions made between past and present, history and journalism, professionalism and amateurism. The first major section of Remapping China, "Bodies," is concerned primarily with issues of gender. The initial essay, however, by Carol Benedict, "Framing Plague in China's Past," explores the methodological problems confronting any effort to describe disease in premodern China in terms ofmodern "laboratorybased " models derived from Western experience and in terms ofWestern notions of"progress." In a sense, she argues, the concept "plague" becomes "like the silent© 1998 by University subaltem whose Voke> cannot be recovered." Among the gender-oriented articles in the first section, Kathryn Bernhardt's essay, "A Ming-Qing Transition in Chinese Women's History? The Perspective from Law," takes as its point of departure the debate between "two competing images ofHawai'i Press Reviews 143 ofthe position ofwomen from the late Ming through the mid Qing"—one dark and deeply depressing, the other more optimistic and uplifting. Focusing on Chinese legal codes concerning betrothal, marriage, divorce, and property, she argues that despite certain anomalous cultural developments in Ming-Qing Jiangnan, overall "the post-Song era brought about a decline in women's legal status." Dorothy Ko—whose pathbreaking book on Chinese women, Teachers ofthe Inner Chambers (1994), receives a certain amount ofskeptical attention from Bernhardt—ventures into the realm ofmale sexuality and the ambiguities ofdesire in "Thinking about Copulating: An Early-Qing Confucian Thinker's Problem with Emotion and Words." Based on an examination ofthe confessional writings of Li Gong (1657-1733), a straitiaced critic oforthodox Neo-Confucianism, she exposes Li's fears ofthe "feelings and passions" {qing) that he claimed to prize, and shows that, ironically, although "Li elucidated the contradictions in Zhu Xi's equation of selfwith desire, in his personal life he seemed no different from Zhu." Gail Hershatter's essay, "Sexing Modern China," underscores the complexity ofChinese (and Western) discourses on "sex" in China, past and present—how they are self-affirming, "deeply gendered," and often intertwined with discussions of "modernity." She also argues persuasively that the search for sources "routinely forces a historian to breach the disciplinary boundary separating fictional and nonfictional writing." The first entry in the section on "Boundaries," Jonathan Lipman's "Hyphenated Chinese: Sino-Muslim Identity in Modern China," discusses the creation and "reification" ofethnic groups in the People's Republic of China. His approach is to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 142-145
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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