Cosmopolitanism in China, 1600–1950

by Minghui Hu and Johan Elverskog


"This book provides a wide-ranging display of the ways in which 'cosmopolitanism' has meaning in China, c. 1600–c. 1900 and how these possibilities were reduced subsequently. Significantly, the volume shows the meanings of cosmopolitanism for different kinds of people in Qing China, including Manchus, Muslims, Koreans (in relation to the Qing, if not in the Qing). It further explicates the multiple framings within which different modalities of cosmopolitanism were achieved, including Buddhist and Confucian. It also shows cosmopolitanism not merely as a feature of thought, but suggests implications of such approaches in matters of governance. Creating multiple challenges to conventional views of early modern and modern China, this important book offers opportunities to craft a more sensible and persuasive understanding of how China’s early modern regional world became part of a late twentieth-century Inner Asian and East Asian world region." —R. Bin Wong, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA; and Director, UCLA Asia Institute

"By exploring the historical links between Confucian cosmology, imperial ideology, political identities and interests, Cosmopolitanism in China changes the terms of understanding cosmopolitanism. It throws into relief the special character of cosmopolitanisms in Europe, South Asia and other parts of the world and thus begins the task of building a true cosmopolitanism for the planet." —Prasenjit Duara, Oscar Tang Professor of East Asian Studies, Duke University

"[A] handsome volume ... organized chronologically and by topics, accompanied by a short introduction by the editors plus a useful index. The volume maintains two main points. The first is that cosmopolitanism in China is not a new phenomenon ... Quite the contrary, it is argued that cosmopolitanism had been operative from the Qing dynasty up to the Early Republican period, and was challenged and brought down by precisely those radical thinkers and activists who struggled to make China a part of the family of nations. The second main point concerns the notion of cosmopolitanism itself: the editors stress the necessity of going beyond a general sensitivity towards cultural diversity and the promotion of all-inclusive universality ... Hence, their reinquiry into Qing culture searches for evidence of crucial cultural exchange and engagement, of true ethical, intellectual and moral commitment to the other, of intellectual visions that surpass the local and create something new that transcends the old, all within a process of trial and amendment. ... Taken together or read one by one, the eight chapters collected in this volume illustrate what Elverskog rightly concluded, that 'there did exist a tradition of Qing cosmopolitanism, and that the Chinese tradition has the cultural, intellectual and religious resources needed to foster cosmopolitanism.'” — Comparative Literature & World Literature


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