|Title||Cultural Centrality and Political Change in Chinese History: Northeast Henan in the Fall of the Ming|
|Year of Publication||2004|
|Keywords||Ancient civilizations, Asians, Chinese history, Culture, NONFICTION, POLITICS|
While this book is deeply learned and generally persuasive, there are areas that demand clarification. First, even though the term "cultural centrality" is used in the title and throughout the text, it remains unclear to me whether means to use the term strictly to refer to the "belief by the people of Henan that the province has long been a cultural centre or more broadly as an analytical concept to refer to the "conditions" of being the cultural centre . To frame my question differently, is "cultural centrality" a meaningful concept outside the imagination of the agents studied in this book? second, although Des Forges is brilliant in focusing our attention to the importance of the past as a "cultural storehouse," his argument that the constant references made by the people of Henan to the Han dynasty amounted to a distinctive quest for cultural centrality remains unconvincing in part because the relationship between the two is never fully demonstrated and in part because educated men in other regions no doubt also frequently drew links to the past. Third, even though Des Forges maintains specifically that men and women, the elite and the masses, all participated in the Han discourse and thus the quest for cultural centrality, it would be worthwhile to distinguish between officials and other members of the elite who consciously took part in this discourse and others (such as most women) who did so at best indirectly.