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The series will be of interest to anybody interested in questions of cosmopolitan and vernacular in the Sinographic Cosmopolis—specifically, with respect to questions of language, writing and literary culture, embracing both beginnings (the origins of and early sources for writing in the sinographic sphere) and endings (the disintegration of the Sinographic Cosmopolis in places like Korea, Japan and Vietnam, and the advent of linguistic modernity throughout all of the old Sinitic sphere. In addition, the series will feature comparative research on interactions and synergies in language, writing and literary culture in the Sinographic Cosmopolis over nearly two millennia, as well as studies of the 'sinographic hangover' in modern East Asia-critical and comparative assessments of the social and cultural history of language and writing and linguistic thought in modern and premodern East Asia.
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The Peoples of Northeast Asia through Time

Precolonial Ethnic and Cultural Processes along the Coast between Hokkaido and the Bering Strait

Richard Zgusta

The focus of Richard Zgusta’s The Peoples of Northeast Asia through Time is the formation of indigenous and cultural groups of coastal northeast Asia, including the Ainu, the “Paleoasiatic” peoples, and the Asiatic Eskimo. Most chapters begin with a summary of each culture at the beginning of the colonial era, which is followed by an interdisciplinary reconstruction of prehistoric cultures that have direct ancestor-descendant relationships with the modern ones. An additional chapter presents a comparative discussion of the ethnographic data, including subsistence patterns, material culture, social organization, and religious beliefs, from a diachronic viewpoint. Each chapter includes maps and extensive references.
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A Conceptual History of Chinese -Isms

The Modernization of Ideological Discourse, 1895–1925

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Ivo Spira

In A Conceptual History of Chinese -Isms, Ivo Spira explores the linguistic and rhetorical development of Chinese -isms, as well as the key concept zhǔyì 主義 ('ism') itself. He argues that the introduction of this concept from Japan in the 1890s inaugurated an 'Age of -Isms', in which it served as a conceptual focus for the stereotypical categorization of people and the utopian imagination of the future.
The book focuses on Chinese -isms in the formative period (1895–1925) through a close reading of key primary sources, covering linguistic, conceptual, and rhetorical aspects of their use in ideological reasoning. Spira emphasizes the combination of internal (traditional) and external (Western and Japanese) factors in the emergence of Chinese -isms.
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Ivo Spira

Abstract

The first chapter introduces the topic of the book along with its sources, methodology, and analytical concepts. The book’s main thesis is that public discourse in China was transformed in a major way during the period 1895–1925, resulting in the rise of a reductionist kind of argumentation that made extensive use of -isms, a type of concept that was created in Chinese based on Japanese and Western models, expressed as words ending in -zhǔyì (‘-ism’). From the start Chinese -isms played an important role in the mapping of the new intellectual landscape, but over the years the ideological dimension of Chinese -isms became dominant. Chinese -isms thus ended up playing an important role historically, as society itself underwent a profound reorganization along ideological lines in the 1920s. In order to explore this topic, articles from the reformist and revolutionary press in late Qing and early Republican China have been chosen as primary sources. The Introduction discusses the analytical concepts of ‘ideology’, ’keyword’, ‘key concept, ‘ismatic concept’, and so forth, as well the relationship between language, concepts and ideology.


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Richard Zgusta

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Richard Zgusta

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Ivo Spira

Abstract

Chapter 2 explores the historical background for the modernization of ideological discourse in China. It shows that while there were phenomena in traditional China that can in some sense be understood as ‘ideological’, they differ from those of modern times. The same goes for ‘ideology’, which was not an established concept. This discontinuity between traditional and modern China can largely be attributed to a difference in the perception of history: the understanding that history was cyclical and contingent impeded the development of programmatic ideals for the future. Only in the late nineteenth century did Western ideas of teleological history gain currency. This chapter first presents an outline of the different attitudes to history and then goes through a number of ideology-related cases from Chinese history, such as the question of whether Confucianism can properly be considered an ‘imperial ideology’ or if Taoist millenarian movements can be understood as ‘utopian’. The concluding section weighs the historical evidence and relates it to the conceptual repertoire of Classical Chinese.


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Richard Zgusta