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Tag: history

Contents and Orientations of Chinese Nationalist Discourse

Chinese nationalism continues to be an important but inadequately understood phenomenon. On the one hand, it is evident that nationhood and national identity are deeply embedded in Chinese society. Polling conducted in 2005 and 2010 among the publics of thirteen Asian countries ranked PRC citizens first in positive feelings towards their nation.1 This unusually strong sense of national pride appears to be supported by a particularly nation-oriented worldview. In but one example, a 2008 survey showed that 84.3 percent of Chinese respondents agreed with the assertion, “Your country should pursue its national interest even if it could harm the interests of another.”2 This is not typical; as Linley notes, only about 40 percent of Japanese affirm such an “unconditional support” for their national interest.3      More importantly, China’s sense of nationhood appears to be highly salient at the individual level. More than four-fifths of PRC citizens polled in 2010 and 2014 agreed, “When other people criticize China, it is as though they are criticizing me.”4 As Dickson writes, “This is a clear indicator that the self-identity of many Chinese is intimately tied to their country.”5 So it was unsurprising when, in late May, a disparaging description of China’s air quality coupled with

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A Case of China’s Economic Power

A case study provides the opportunity to delve deeper into the perceived advantage that China wields over the United States in monetary power. By analyzing a real world case of Chinese monetary power, this research aims to answer the questions: when is economic coercive action in the Chinese-United States relationship likely to succeed, and why aren’t there more instances in which China tries to make use of its theoretical leverage. Over the course of the case studies, deeper analysis presents a more complex and complicated picture of the broader and more definitive areas of leverage presented in the analysis of economic realities. This suggests that theoretical advantage, while supported by economic figures, can often be hard to capitalize on in reality. In the case of China’s monetary power, this research makes use of “the most likely case” of economic coercive action (Eckstein, 1975). As such, this research aims to take a case of Chinese utilization of economic power that has a high likelihood of success and explore how successful it was in reality as well as what were the circumstances of its failure or success. This falls short of an all-out attempt to disprove the theoretical advantage, as is often

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Karissa Chen: The Hundred-Mile Ditch, A novel

Karissa Chen’s reflects on several months of novel research on the stories of post-1949 migrants to Taiwan and related history. Karissa Chen is the author of “Of Birds and Lovers.” Her work has been published in numerous publications, including PEN America, Gulf Coast, Guernica, and The Toast. She is the Senior Literature Editor at Hyphen magazine, and a co-founding editor of Some Call It Ballin.

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The Meaning of John Dewey’s Trip to China, 1919-1921

     This year, in addition to teaching American philosophy in Taiwan, I have been researching John Dewey’s visit to China from 1919-1921.  The facts surrounding Dewey’s visit are fairly well known.  Dewey arrived in China at the height of the May Fourth Movement.  His former students invited him to tour and to give lectures throughout the country, and there are detailed records of his itinerary and the content of his talks.  I have focused primarily on how this experience influenced Dewey himself, and I have been reading his papers and personal letters in order to gain some insight.      The real meaning of Dewey’s visit remains a question that neither history nor philosophy has conclusively settled.  According to historian Benjamin Schwartz, “the encounter between John Dewey and modern China is one of the most fascinating episodes in the intellectual history of twentieth-century China.”  After reviewing Dewey’s own experiences, I think it is fair to say that it was one of the most fascinating episodes in Dewey’s own intellectual development as well.  Of particular interest in this regard is the manner in which the relationship between Confucian institutions and democratic reform was debated in Dewey’s presence, and the way

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Teaching Dewey in Taiwan

In the fall semester of 2014, I taught a seminar on American philosophy to graduate students in the Philosophy department at National Taiwan University.  The main focus of the course was on the work of John Dewey, an American philosopher who, along with his wife Alice, spent over two years in China (1919-1921).  The timing of their stay could not have been more momentous.  They arrived in China on May 1, 1919, three days before the student uprisings of May 4, 1919.  This episode is part of a period now known as the May Fourth movement, during which Chinese thinkers engaged in vigorous debates over traditional customs and values.  During his visit, Dewey travelled, lectured, and wrote extensively about his experiences in China.  As my students and I read his philosophical works, I am working through Dewey’s own writings from this period: his personal letters, essays, and lectures.  What I’ve discovered has enriched my Taiwan experience very much. Obviously, much has changed since John Dewey visited the Republic of China in 1919.  Among the most important changes is that the Republic of China is now located on Taiwan.  Despite this geopolitical change, what is most striking is how many of

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Charles Musgrove: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Emergence of Democracy in Taiwan

    Fulbright Senior Scholar Dr. Charles Musgrove discusses how the impressive Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in central Taipei has defied the original intentions of its creators to become a popular lightning rod of democratic activity.     Dr. Charles Musgrove is Associate Professor of History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He is the author of China’s Contested Capital:Architecture, Ritual and Response in Nanjing (University of Hawaii Press, 2013) which investigates the construction of Nanjing as the “model capital” of China under Nationalist Party (KMT) rule. Read more about Dr. Musgrove’s observation, please also read: Preliminary Reflections on the CKS Memorial Hall (http://journal.fulbright.org.tw/index.php/about-taiwan/essays/item/88-preliminary-reflections-on-the-chiang-kai-shek-memorial-hall) 回溯以往-中正紀念堂與台灣民主的興起 – 傅爾布萊特系列講座     坐落在台北市中心的中正紀念堂似乎已違背了設立者的原始構想,成為民主活動的指標,傅爾布萊特資深學者莫林博士歡迎大家一同來討論這個特殊的歷史現象。    莫林博士為馬里蘭州聖瑪麗學院歷史學系之副教授。他於2013年出版《國民政府爭議性之首都:南京的建築、儀式和反響》一書。內容談及南京在國民黨的治理及建設下成為國民政府的模範首都。

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Late-Imperial Bibliographic Studies and Digital Quantitative Analysis

       Modern scholars of late-Imperial Chinese literature benefit from collected texts printed during the Ming and Qing dynasties that are supplemented with bibliographic information on both extant and non-extant books. Cataloging old texts was traditionally an important part of late-Imperial Chinese scholarship. Scholars closely researched important works by exploring their textual histories, identifying forgeries, and tracing their provenance. Some of this information was eventually preserved in large annotated indexes.        Publishing houses also printed compilations of popular texts and sometimes reprinted entire libraries. Though some were commercial products, other endeavors aimed to preserve (particularly those sponsored by the government). Many examples of this exist, the most famous being the 18th century The Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Si ku quan shu 四庫全書), compiled under the Qianlong (乾隆) emperor.  This was accompanied by An Index of Summaries of the Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Si ku quan shu zong mu ti yao 四庫全書總目提要), a bibliographic index that provided short descriptions of the titles within, as well as many that were not included in the Si ku quan shu.  This tendency to publish collections of older books was common and likely lead to the preservation of

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Taiwan: An Ideal Place to Conduct Research on the Qing Dynasty

     As a PhD candidate in late imperial Chinese history, already four months into a ten-month Fulbright grant period in Taiwan, I have two goals for this brief essay. First, I want to set forth the reasons why Fulbright Taiwan has provided an ideal environment for my research. Second, I want to suggest that Taiwan is an excellent place to do in-country research on the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Given the vast trove of archives now open to scholars in mainland China and given that various Taiwanese institutions have digitized many of Taiwan’s archival collections and generously placed them on-line (in some cases, accessible from anywhere), some scholars may no longer consider Taiwan a worthwhile destination for in-country research on Chinese history. To the contrary, my experience has been that the combination of nearly unrestricted access to superbly curated archives, a vibrant and welcoming intellectual community, an incredible system of libraries and research centers, close proximity to mainland China, the concentration of excellent scholars and academic institutions in one place, a clean and modern environment, and Taiwan’s own history as a Qing frontier combine to make Taiwan an ideal location for in-country research on the Qing. After four months, I

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On the Road with Xuanzang

This was a spectacular find. Xuanzang is one of the most celebrated monks in the history of Asia. His historic pilgrimage from China to India in the seventh century has been re-imagined in texts, images, and performances for well over a thousand years. In the early twentieth century, Xuanzang’s translations and commentaries were enjoying a revival after more than a millennium of neglect. The Faxiang tradition of Yogācāra Buddhism, whose intricate phenomenological and epistemological systems were popularized in China through Xuanzang’s efforts, fell out of favor soon after his death. But the Yogācāra textual corpus had been reintroduced to China by the late Qing era lay-scholar Yang Wenhui, who retrieved a collection of Yogācāra texts from Japan in the late nineteenth century. Incredibly, just a few decades after the body of Xuanzang’s work was brought back from obscurity, his long lost physical remains were also unearthed. Since its discovery, Xuanzang’s skull shard has both re-enacted and extended Xuanzang’s life. It has also multiplied. Over the last seventy years, Xuanzang’s parietal bone has been broken and divided more than a dozen times—producing a plurality of relics, each with its own distinct history. Because Xuanzang’s life and literary legacy have left such

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Preliminary Reflections on the CKS Memorial Hall

The Fulbright Taiwan program is generously sponsoring my year of sabbatical research here in Taipei, where I am investigating the relationships between public spaces and the emergence of democracy.  I am interested in how Nationalist era symbols and rituals have been used on Taiwan from 1945 to the early 2000’s. Over this period, the Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang, or KMT) at first tried to use symbols and ceremonies developed on the mainland to turn former Japanese colonial subjects into dutiful Chinese citizens loyal to the party’s “revolutionary” leadership. From the outset there was tension and violence between local Taiwanese people and the hundreds of thousands of mainlanders that came over to Taiwan with the KMT, particular during the retreat from the mainland in 1949. As a result, for many residents “national” symbols were full of unintended ironies and variegated meanings. During my year here, I am exploring the uses of public spaces as these symbols were contested and transformed as Taiwan moved from a one-party dictatorship to a liberal democracy. Over time, popular public spaces come to acquire a “superabundance of meanings” (Jones 2000), and this was particularly true in the public spaces of Taipei as new forms of Taiwanese

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