Imagining a Postnational World

Hegemony and Space in Modern China


This book analyzes the historical significance of rivaling concepts of world order in 20th century East Asia. Since the arrival of European imperialism in 19th century – coupled with its different schools of political philosophy and international law – China has struggled to combine ideas on national sovereignty, spatiality and hegemony in its quest of either imitating or replacing European norms of world order. By analyzing Chinese visions of regional and international order and comparing them with Japanese proposals of that era, this book discusses in detail the relationship of territoriality and political rule, discourses of amity and enmity, and finally the role of hegemoniality in the process of imagining a possible postnational world in 21st century East Asia and beyond.
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EUR €135.00USD $162.00

Biographical Note

Marc Andre Matten, Ph.D. (2007), is Associate Professor of Contemporary Chinese History at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. He has published extensively on the issues of Chinese nationalism and national identity, including The Borders of Being Chinese—On the Creation of National Identity in 20th Century China (German, Harrassowitz, 2009) and Places of Memory in Modern China—History, Politics, and Identity (Brill, 2011/2013).

Review Quotes

"In the book, Matten makes a significant contribution to the study of international relations by clarifying the differences between place, territory, and space. [...] From today's perspective, Matten's book deserves repeated reading--not only for the historical facts, but also for the glimpses of hope."
Tze-ki Hon, City University of Hong Kong, Frontiers of History in China 12.2, August 2017

"This book excels at delving into classic canons, key documents, and historical context. [...] What makes this book an engaging read is the way Matten traces the shifting emphases of political concepts through research grounded in specific contexts. [...] This study is intellectual history at its best. The author examines theoretical concepts not in splendid isolation but with an eye to historical circumstances. [...] This admirable study ends with a reflection on the resurgence of tianxia discourse in the contemporary world. [...] Matten expresses the hope that as a viable alternative, the postnational tianxia may contribute to the rethinking of idealist theories of international relations, of hegemony without domination, and of culture rather realpolitik as a significant factor in forging a peaceful world order."
Ban Wang, Stanford University ( MCLC Resource Center Publication [Copyright September, 2018])

Table of contents

Preface & Acknowledgements ix
List of Figures xi
Introduction 1
1 Space, Territory, and National Sovereignty in Modern East Asia 13
2 Reconceptualizing World Order after the Tribute System 32
3 The Legal Principle of National Sovereignty in Modern East Asia 79
4 The Territoriality of National Sovereignty 112
5 Fighting the White Peril: Japan’s Turn to Spatiality 162
6 Pacifying the Hostis: China’s Return to Ecumenical Morality 225
7 Lessons from the Past: Visions of World Order Today 277
Conclusion 299
Bibliography 307
Index 357


All interested in Asian history, history of international relations, reception of international law in East Asia, the history of pan-Asianism, national cartography in China and the spatial turn in international relations in East Asia.


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