Time and Language

ebook New Sinology and Chinese History

By Ori Sela

cover image of Time and Language

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China's past and present have been in a continuous dialogue throughout history, one that is heavily influenced by time and language: the temporal orientation and the linguistic apparatus used to express and solidify identity, ideas, and practices. Presenting a host of in-depth case studies, Time and Language: New Sinology and Chinese History argues for and demonstrates the significance of "New Sinology" by restoring the role of language/philology in the research and understanding of how modern China emerged. Reading the modern as a careful and ongoing conversation with the past renders the "new" in a different perspective. This volume is a significant step toward a new historical narrative of China's modern history, one wherein "ruptures" can exist in tandem with continuities. The collection accentuates the deep connection between language and power—one that spans well across China's long past—and hence the immense consequences of linguistic-related methodology to the comprehension of power structures and identity in China.
Each of the essays in this volume tackles these issues, the methodological and the thematic, from a different angle but they all share the Sinological prism of analysis and the basic understanding that a much longer timeframe is required to make sense of Chinese modernity. The languages examined are diverse, including modern and classical Chinese, as well as Manchu and Japanese. Taken together they bring a spectrum of linguistic perspectives and hence a spectrum of power relations and identities to the forefront. While the essays focus on late Qing and early twentieth-century eras, they refer often to earlier periods, which are necessary to making real sense of later eras. The methodological and the thematic do not only converge, but also generate a plea for fostering and expanding this approach in current and future studies.

Time and Language