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An Ethnography of the Classics-reading Movement in Contemporary China
Author: Sandra Gilgan
Sandra Gilgan’s Utopia in the Revival of Confucian Education examines the classics-reading movement in contemporary China as not only driven by attraction to certain elements of tradition, but even more by caesuras in the past that caused people to detach from their cultural roots. The author argues that activism in the classics-reading movement arises from an entanglement of past, present, and future. Social and political upheaval in the near past of the twentieth century caused people to disconnect from their traditional culture and ways of living, resulting in the present need to reconnect with perceived “original” culture and tradition from the more distant past. Through peoples’ imaginaries of a better future that are informed by past traditions, new ways of the past find entrance into life and education in study halls and academies. This new study draws on multi-sited ethnographic field research in ten Chinese cities, with the broadest database currently available. It combines theoretical elements from anthropology, history, sociology and sinology in a grounded theory approach. As an interdisciplinary study, the book is of interest for academics in Asian and Chinese studies, heritage and memory studies, religious studies, educational sciences, history, and cultural anthropology, as well as social and political sciences.