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Frontiers of History in China

ISSN 1673-3401 (Print)
ISSN 1673-3525 (Online)
CN 11-5740/K
Postal Subscription Code 80-980


, Volume 11 Issue 3

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Orginal Article
The Scholar’s Robe: Material Culture and Political Power in Early Modern China
Minghui Hu
Front. Hist. China. 2016, 11 (3): 339-375.
Abstract   PDF (3573KB)

This essay explores the history of the scholar’s robe as a nexus of material culture and political power. It focuses on the controversial garment —called ren 衽—found pervasively in the Confucian canon and confirmed in archaeological findings. But for hundreds of years there have been disagreements and changes concerning which specific term is identified with which part of the robe, especially involving the use of ren in the scholar’s robe. The bulk of my analysis deals with two prominent scholars’ monographs on the robe: Huang Zongxi’s Investigation of the Robe (Shenyi kao ) and Jiang Yong’s pointed rebuttal titled Mistakes in “Investigation of the Robe” (Shenyi kao wu ). The intellectual and political configurations of both works are analyzed in depth in order to contrast two options of cultural identity: Chinese superiority versus cosmopolitan universalism.

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Local Histories in Global Perspective: A Local Elite Fellowship in the Port City of Quanzhou in Seventeenth-Century China
Guotong Li
Front. Hist. China. 2016, 11 (3): 376-399.
Abstract   PDF (246KB)

The Great Mosque of Quanzhou, as a distinctive community center, bound its residents through religious, professional, and educational ties; it also linked the mosque community to other communities with bonds of shared Muslim identity and minority status. The Great Mosque was rebuilt in 1609 under the supervision of the Confucian scholar Li Guangjin. This significant event is evidence of a local elite fellowship in seventeenth-century Quanzhou consisting of three well-known Confucian scholars—Li Zhi, Li Guangjin, and He Qiaoyuan—who had close ties to their Muslim neighbors. They left meticulous records of merchants, particularly Muslim traders. This paper focuses on the fellowship among the three men in order to investigate Quanzhou’s connections to the broader world of global commercial and religious networks and to look more closely at local community life.

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Occupied Space, Occupied Time: Food Hawking and the Central Market in Hong Kong’s Victoria City during the Opium War
Gary Chi-hung Luk
Front. Hist. China. 2016, 11 (3): 400-430.
Abstract   PDF (2247KB)

This article explains British measures against food hawking in the emergent city of Victoria, Hong Kong during the Opium War. It argues that British interest in the long-term development of Hong Kong can be traced back to the establishment in May 1842 of the Central Market in Victoria specifically to prevent food peddling. It was a time when Hong Kong was still under military occupation and its status as a British colony was uncertain. Although Hong Kong’s public markets were associated with many of the problems that came with early British rule in the territory, the British administrators of Opium War Hong Kong intended that the Central Market, the first public market in Victoria, benefit both the Western and Chinese communities. This article also argues that the founding of the Central Market to eliminate food hawking exemplifies the overall manner that the British authorities took in dealing with the urban Chinese population. In addition to strictly prohibiting Chinese peddling, which often obstructed roads and streets, the authorities encouraged Chinese food hawkers to move to the orderly Central Market. While the British authorities exercised some direct control to maintain social order inside the Central Market, the government appointed a better-off Chinese person to oversee its routine operation. The 1842 Central Market was one of the earliest urban Chinese “elite organizations” in British Hong Kong where Chinese elites managed the affairs of the Chinese community of Victoria city.

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A New Woman and Her Warlord: Li Dequan, Feng Yuxiang, and the Politics of Intimacy in Twentieth- Century China
Kate Merkel-Hess
Front. Hist. China. 2016, 11 (3): 431-457.
Abstract   PDF (1006KB)

This article proposes a new way of viewing Republican-era warlords. Through an examination of the life of Li Dequan, the second wife of warlord Feng Yuxiang, it displaces Feng from his typical military and political context, scrutinizing instead the ways that Feng and Li interwove the private intimacies of love, marriage, and family life into their public and political lives. In the Republic, Feng and Li, like many prominent figures of the time, shared elements of their private lives with journalists and, through them, a broader reading public, posing for photographs with their children on their way to school and inviting reporters to family events. Feng and Li utilized this newfound intimacy between public and political leaders to cultivate public sympathy and support. By the early PRC, Li—following Feng’s sudden 1948 death—was named the first Minister of Health of the People’s Republic of China and her roles as wife and romantic object fell away. Instead, she focused on mothering the nation. By the late twentieth century, emphasis on the Li and Feng romance reappeared in writings about the couple, and while these narratives drew on the Republican-era stories, it was made to seem that Li’s feminism rather than Feng’s modernity had facilitated their true love. Though the warlords have often been seen as destructive, exploring Feng’s and Li’s lives demonstrates that factional militarists and their families contributed to a new political culture grounded in a gendered national narrative that intertwined family and nation.

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Under and Beyond the Pen of Eileen Chang: Shanghai, Nanyang, Huaqiao, and Greater China
Bin Yang
Front. Hist. China. 2016, 11 (3): 458-484.
Abstract   PDF (260KB)

Although Eileen Chang, one of China’s most popular twentiethcentury writers, never visited Nanyang (lit., the South Sea, referring principally to Southeast Asia), Nanyang and huaqiao (Chinese sojourners) are mentioned frequently in her writings. This essay first analyzes Chang’s images of Nanyang and huaqiao , and then discusses the societal and individual contexts of her literary conceptualizations by tracing her direct and indirect knowledge of these themes. Chang’s imagination of Nanyang and huaqiao , examined within the historical context of Sino-Nanyang interactions, provides a valuable opportunity to discuss the emergence of a nationalist-driven huaqiao community and the expansion of Sino-Nanyang interactions before the Pacific War.

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10 articles