Implications of Chinese empire discourses in East Asia: critical studies on China

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Abstract

Abstract: China is characterized by a long history, vast land, huge population and diversity unprecedented in world history. In addition, she is a unique case that has successfully completed the transition from empire to the nation-state. Therefore, her historical independence and her continuity become very important subject areas for research, and the concept “empire” re-emerges as a major means of explanation. The essential defining features of empire are tolerance and expansion. I have been reviewing discourses on “China as Empire,” looking at studies of the tributary system, the civilization-state, and the Tianxia view raised from both inside and outside of China. A common characteristic of these discourses is the perception that the past, present and future of China cannot be fully explained by Western concepts such as nation-state. They also reveal that the supposed continuity with the past, which is overemphasized in many studies, does not necessarily always correspond with historical reality. The key focus of the empire discourses is the project of future China. Finally, I put a particular emphasis upon the “perspective of peripheries” in order to find ways to demonstrate the benefits of viewing China as an empire, while also overcoming the weaknesses of empire theory. It is the reason why I apply to the analysis of the empire discourses the “compound state” theory incubated as a way of reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-226
Number of pages21
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 3

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies

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