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The Origins of the Chinese Nation
Song China and the Forging of an East Asian World Order


  • Date Published: November 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316647486

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About the Authors
  • In this major new study, Nicolas Tackett proposes that the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) witnessed both the maturation of an East Asian inter-state system and the emergence of a new worldview and sense of Chinese identity among educated elites. These developments together had sweeping repercussions for the course of Chinese history, while also demonstrating that there has existed in world history a viable alternative to the modern system of nation-states. Utilising a wide array of historical, literary, and archaeological sources, chapters focus on diplomatic sociability, cosmopolitan travel, military strategy, border demarcation, ethnic consciousness, and the cultural geography of Northeast Asia. In this ground breaking new approach to the history of the East Asian inter-state system, Tackett argues for a concrete example of a pre-modern nationalism, explores the development of this nationalism, and treats modern nationalism as just one iteration of a phenomenon with a much longer history.

    • Provides a concrete example of a pre-modern nationalism for students and specialists of the topic
    • Proposes a new approach to the study of the pre-modern East Asian inter-state system
    • This book will appeal to readers sceptical of claims of a static, unchanging traditional Chinese world order
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Tackett's provocative and highly original book makes the case that eleventh-century Chinese scholar-officials, traveling back and forth on embassies between the Song capital and the Kitans' Liao court, came to think of their country not as a universal empire, ruling many ethnic groups, but as a nation state, a state for the Han Chinese.' Patricia Buckley Ebrey, University of Washington

    'In The Origins of the Chinese Nation: Song China and the Forging of an East Asian World Order, Nicolas Tackett shows that 'nationalism' was not solely a modern, Western phenomenon by demonstrating how a form of nationalist consciousness came into being in eleventh-century China, when the Chinese state coexisted with other states on its borders. Elegantly and lucidly written, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the complex interactions of culture, ethnicity, and nationalism.' Beverly Bossler, University of California, Davis

    'Tackett's study of the formation of a new literati national consciousness in the eleventh century denaturalize the modern nation and fundamentally challenges the belief that nationalism is the unique product of Western modernity.' Peter K. Bol, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'Tackett ingeniously explores the political and cultural space of the Northern Song period (960–1127 C.E.) to demonstrate the rise of a new Chinese identity remarkably similar to the early nationalisms of the Atlantic world. He succeeds in demonstrating the emergence of a national consciousness in the late eleventh century through careful use of textual and archaeological sources.' Michael C. McGrath, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    'Nicolas Tackett's The Origins of the Chinese Nation provides a wealth of material in a renewed attempt at exploring 'when is the nation?' …' Atsuko Ichijo, Nations and Nationalism

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316647486
    • dimensions: 234 x 164 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 17 b/w illus. 1 map 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Political Space:
    1. Diplomacy and cosmopolitan society
    2. Military defense of the Northern Frontier
    3. Bilateral boundaries
    Part II. Cultural Spaces:
    4. The Chinese nation
    5. Mortuary cultures across the Chinese-Steppe divide
    6. Sinic space and Han Chinese

  • Author

    Nicolas Tackett, University of California, Berkeley
    Nicolas Tackett earned his B.S. from Stanford University (1998) and his Ph.D. from Columbia University (2006). He has been at the University of California, Berkeley since 2009, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on a variety of topics, including 'Imperial China and the World', 'Precursors of Modern Nationalism', 'Frontier History', and 'History of Nationalism in Asia'. Tackett's first book, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (2014), received the American Historical Association's John Henry Breasted Prize in 2015. He was also the recipient of post-doctoral fellowships at Stanford University and the Getty Research Institute, and of an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship. He has given talks on four continents and in three languages on topics related to Tang-Song China.

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