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Smith in Beijing, Stalin in Urumchi

Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009

Chris Hann

The extraordinary growth rates of China’s “reform socialist” economy have helped to finance not only the United States’ debt but also large-scale transfers to the country’s underdeveloped regions. Yet violence in Tibet in 2008 was followed in July 2009 by major rioting in Xinjiang. This article approaches the latter events through the analysis of contemporary labor markets, socialist policies toward ethnic minorities, and the history of Xinjiang’s incorporation into the Manchu empire. Theoretical inspiration for this longue durée analysis is drawn from Adam Smith, via Giovanni Arrighi’s recent reassessment of the Smithian market model; anthropological work points to flaws in this vision.

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Powers of sovereignty

State, people, wealth, life

Aihwa Ong

Hardt and Negri's trilogy describes an American Empire as shaping a world split between global capital and disenfranchised multitude, leading to a final confrontation between the Empire of capital and the counter-Empire of workers everywhere. However, their interpretation is limited by their philosophical abstraction and revolutionary vision, which fails to recognize the implications of actually existing processes of sovereignty and capital at this global juncture. The situation found in Asia challenges their analysis. In contemporary China, experimental assemblages of sovereign powers, capital, techne, and ethics have not weakened, but, in fact, have strengthened political sovereignty, nationalist sentiments, and collectivist ethos, presenting a different picture of biopolitics from that of Hardt and Negri's global theory. The authoritarian outcomes in China are political solutions forged in circumstances that mingle the global, the historical, and the situated. This article argues that Asian aspirations are rearranging capitalism and political sovereignty as Hardt and Negri understand them.

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Social Quality of China

Indicators, Reality, and Problems

Li Wei and Cui Yan

China has entered a new phase of development. Living standards have significantly improved as the economy grows. Socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all strengthened, but the social quality level is not quite satisfactory. First, many think the low “social security” cannot provide sufficient protection. Second, low social trust and lack of social belief and value system greatly affect social cohesion. Third, to cope with social discrimination and realize better tolerance, social inclusion must be addressed. People have the strongest sense of unfairness for wealth and income gaps as well as right and entitlement differences between urban and rural areas. In addition, low political efficacy and low levels of social and political participation indicate weak social empowerment in China.

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Jingyi Li

This article examines the cultural values conveyed via texts and illustrations in EFL (English as a foreign language) textbooks currently in use in China. The large number of cultural values represented include patriotism, respect, diligence, collectivism, and equitable gender roles. These show that the national curriculum has been implemented in EFL textbooks. At the same time, the “common sense” design of textbooks also reflects textbook editors’ and writers’ cultural values.

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Yajun Mo

Overtaking Americans and Germans as the world’s most exuberant tourism spenders, middle-class Chinese tourists have become the most coveted demographic in the global tourism market. At the same time, robust “Golden Week” tourism data, which tracks domestic tourism during the two-week national holidays in mainland China, has indicated a surge in travel within China. Viewed as a revealing lens through which one could observe Chinese modernity, travel and tourism-related activities have attracted considerable attention from scholars interested in China.1 However, marked as a “contemporary” phenomenon, tourism and travel in China seem to have remained largely outside historians’ purview. In response to calls from mobility scholars for a historical understanding of the movement of peoples, goods, and ideas since the late twentieth century, China historians have begun to examine the practice of travel and tourism, especially from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. At the same time, infl uenced by colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory, literary scholars have renewed their interests in Chinese travel accounts, both textual and visual, making connections between travelers’ representations and the imaginations of empire and nation-state over the past few centuries.

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Social Quality in China

An Analysis of the Evaluation of Different Classes

Cui Yan and Huang Yongliang

Since the end of the 1990s, when European scholars put forward the social quality theory, related research has been recently and increasingly carried out in China. At present, Chinese society has entered a new stage of development, and the main demands of the population have gradually changed. For theoretical and practical reasons, it is highly attractive to strengthen the research on the social quality of China in order to meet new public demands and expectations and to promote the improvement of social quality through the implementation of effective politics and policies. Based on empirical data, this article comprehensively analyzes the cognition of different layers of China’s population and the change of the four conditional factors of social quality on the overall development of society.

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The Elementary Economies of Dechenwa Life

Fortune, Vitality, and the Mountain in Sino-Tibetan Borderlands

Giovanni da Col

This article presents some images and conceptual structures surrounding notions of fortune and luck among Dechen Tibetans in southwest China and reflects on the strategies for negotiating the integrity of persons and other 'social containers'. First, it analyzes the problem in separating the multifarious manifestations of fortune connected to the well-being and vitality of persons and households. Secondly, it examines the ethnographic concepts arising from the interface between fortune and sovereignty by illustrating the cosmological imagination surrounding contemporary state rituals focused on the cult of Mt. Khawa Karpo. Finally, musing on the relation between vitality, containership, and alterity, the article highlights how tracing the flows of fortune problematizes the divide between interiority and exteriority, or the question of where the outside and the inside of a being or a society begin.

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Educating for Nationhood

A Semiotic Reading of the Memorial Hall for Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders

Patrizia Violi

This article analyzes the Memorial Hall for Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, opened in its present form in 2007 to commemorate the massacre perpetrated by the Japanese in 1937, when in the course of six weeks a significant number of harmless civilians were brutally slaughtered. The memorial is a highly complex semiotic object: it includes a large museum but is also, and perhaps above all, a huge thematic park that occupies an extremely large surface area of seventy-four thousand square meters. Through a close reading of the site, this article seeks to show how the Nanjing Memorial, more than serving the function of conservation and transmission of a tragic, traumatic memory, is mostly a monument to Chinese nationhood, an important step in the construction of a new national identity.

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Is It Scripture or Not?

On Moments of Conceptual Tertium Datur

Ralph Weber

Focusing on examples related to the concept of scripture, I highlight certain moments of indecisiveness in the context of larger processes of possible conceptual change. In these moments, agents involved in the process frequently employ language that in one way or another expresses a conceptual tertium datur. This article sets out to distinguish some of those ways, such as analogy, assertions of resemblance, quasi-status or partial scripturality, oxymoronic adjectival qualification, and exclusivity by selection. The examples draw on four cases, the publication of the Sacred Books of the East series, Petrus Venerabilis's discussion of the Koran, a taxonomy by al-Shahrastānī with regard to the “People of the Book”, and the canonization of the Five Classics in ancient China. Finally, I issue a rallying cry for an entangled and transnational conceptual history. Such an approach is likely to foreground interlingual situations where conceptual indecisiveness is the rule rather than the exception.

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Har Ye Kan

In 1870, a report by a local commissioner in Zhenjiang, a city by the Yangzi River in Jiangsu Province, noted that “the Chinese are learning to appreciate traveling by foreign steamers. Not a few of the passengers who arrive and depart hence are officials, who have so far overcome their bigotry to acknowledge that steamer traveling is eminently satisfactory.” As foreign powers had used steamers in their economic expansion in China during the First Opium War (1839–42), the Chinese had at first associated this mode of transport with imperialism and Western dominance before they became an integral part of passenger and commercial conveyance.