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The Politics of the Past in Early China

£75.00

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108425728

£ 75.00
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  • Why did the past matter so greatly in ancient China? How did it matter and to whom? This is an innovative study of how the past was implicated in the long transition of power in early China, as embodied by the decline of the late Bronze Age aristocracy and the rise of empires over the first millenium BCE. Engaging with a wide array of historical materials, including inscriptional records, excavated manuscripts, and transmitted texts, Vincent S. Leung moves beyond the historiographical canon and explores how the past was mobilized as powerful ideological capital in diverse political debate and ethical dialogue. Appeals to the past in early China were more than a matter of cultural attitude, Leung argues, but were rather deliberate ways of articulating political thought and challenging ethical debates during periods of crisis. Significant power lies in the retelling of the past.

    • Furthers our understanding of the history of early China and the ancient world
    • Contributes to our understanding of historiography from the Bronze Age to the first millenium BCE
    • The book is based on a diverse set of primary sources, including inscriptional materials and excavated manuscripts
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Vincent S. Leung has produced an exceptional piece of intellectual history. The book is a powerful testament to the fact that the past is not necessarily a neutral, objective given; it can be a high-stakes enterprise involving contested notions of heritage, origin, and authority that reflect concerns and interests in the present.' Erica Brindley, Pennsylvania State University

    'This well-annotated study of Chinese historiography from the Bronze Age through Sima Qian stands out for its wide range of sources, including received texts and palaeographical material, such as bronze inscriptions and manuscripts on bamboo. Also notable is the author's grasp of secondary studies, in both Chinese studies and the philosophy of history generally.' Paul R. Goldin, University of Pennsylvania

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108425728
    • length: 212 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Time out of joint: uses of the past from the Western Zhou to the early warring states
    2. A parenthetical past: deep history and anti-history in the late warring states
    3. Specter of the past: bureaucratic amnesia under the Rise of the Qin Empire
    4. The rehabilitation of antiquity in the early Han Empire
    5. Sima Qian's critical past
    Epilogue.

  • Author

    Vincent S. Leung, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
    Vincent S. Leung is Associate Professor of Chinese history at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.

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