I am a cultural historian of China. I am interested in how the ideas of "China" and "Chineseness" have evolved over time, and I am intrigued by how the sociology of culture—the production, transmission, and consumption of beliefs and practices—has shaped not only how the boundaries of China have been drawn but also how China itself has been historicized. While my research has been centered on the later imperial period, I have maintained a strong interest in the more recent past, especially as it pertains to the formation and transformation of identities in what might be broadly referred to as the Sinophone world.
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...
Shin reviews BLOOD AND HISTORY IN CHINA: The Donglin Faction and its Repression by John W. Dardess.
"Beyond the Neon Lights: Everyday Shanghai in the Early Twentieth Century" by Hanchao Lu is reviewed.
(Cross-listed with ASIA 373; students to register in ASIA 373) This course explores the history, culture, and identities of Hong Kong from the port's pre-colonial settings in the early nineteenth century to its post-colonial contexts. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the metamorphoses of this most unusual metropolis as well as to further their skills in historical analysis. This course encourages students to critically consider Hong Kong's multifaceted identities as well as to take into account the local, national, and transnational (not to mention international) contexts of its spectacular transformations. Equivalency: ASIA 373.
(Cross-listed with ASIA 340; students to register in HIST 379) This course explores the history of China from the disintegration of the Tang Empire at the turn of the tenth century to the eve of the country's modern transformation. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the political, socio-economic, and cultural changes in later imperial China and to initiate them to the art and techniques of historical analysis. This course challenges the stereotype of a monolithic and static China and encourages students to develop a critical understanding of the internal and external forces integrating and dividing this geo-cultural unit. Equivalency: ASIA 340.
Areas of interest: imperial China; culture and society; historiography and methodology; comparative early modern societies; Hong Kong; web-enhanced learning
personal page: http://www.history.ubc.ca/faculty/lshin/