Roger T. Ames and Jinhua Jia
For more than a century scholars both inside and outside of China have undertaken the project of modernizing Confucianism, but few have been as successful or influential as Li Zehou (b. 1930). Since the 1950s, Li’s extensive efforts in this regard have in turn exerted a profound influence on Chinese modernization and resulted in his becoming one of China’s most prominent social critics. To transform Confucianism into a contemporary resource for positive change in China and elsewhere, Li has reinterpreted major ideas and concepts of classical Confucianism, including a rereading of the entire Analects, replete with his own philosophical speculations derived from other Chinese and Western traditions (most notably, the ideas of Kant and Marx), and developed an aesthetical theory that has proved especially far-reaching.
Although the authors of this volume hail from East Asia, North America, and Europe and a wide variety of academic backgrounds and fields of study, they are unanimous in their appreciation of Li’s contributions to not only an evolving Confucian philosophy, but also world philosophy. They view Li first and foremost as a sui generis thinker with broad global interests and not one who fits neatly into any one philosophical category, Chinese or Western. This is clearly reflected in the chapters included here, which are organized into three parts: Li Zehou and the Modernization of Confucianism, Li Zehou’s Reconception of Confucian Philosophy, and Li Zehou’s Aesthetical Theory and Confucianism. Together they form a coherent narrative that reveals how Li has, for more than half a century, creatively studied, absorbed, and reconceptualized the Confucian ideational tradition to integrate it with Western philosophical elements and develop his own philosophical insights and original theories. At the same time, he has transformed and modernized Confucianism for the purpose of both coalescing with and reconstructing a new world cultural order.
Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot
A beautifully designed and richly illustrated retelling of the unique and powerful history of Samoan tattooing, from 3,000 years ago to modern practices.
The Samoan Islands are virtually unique in that tattooing has been continuously practised with indigenous techniques: the full male tattoo, the pe’a has evolved in subtle ways in its design since the nineteenth-century, but remains as elaborate, meaningful, and powerful as it ever was.
This cultural history is the first publication to examine 3,000 years of Samoan tatau. Through a chronology rich with people, encounters, and events it describes how Samoan tattooing has been shaped by local and external forces of change over many centuries. It argues that Samoan tatau has a long history of relevance both within and beyond Samoa, and a more complicated history than is currently presented in the literature.
It is richly illustrated with historical images of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Samoan tattooing, contemporary tattooing, diagrams of tattoo designs and motifs, and with supplementary photographs such as posters, ephemera, film stills, and artefacts.
Mark A. Nathan
At the start of the twentieth century, the Korean Buddhist tradition was arguably at the lowest point in its 1,500-year history in the peninsula. Discriminatory policies and punitive measures imposed on the monastic community during the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910) had severely weakened Buddhist institutions. Prior to 1895, monastics were prohibited by law from freely entering major cities and remained isolated in the mountains where most of the surviving temples and monasteries were located. In the coming decades, profound changes in Korean society and politics would present the Buddhist community with new opportunities to pursue meaningful reform. The central pillar of these reform efforts was p’ogyo, the active propagation of Korean Buddhist teachings and practices, which subsequently became a driving force behind the revitalization of Buddhism in twentieth-century Korea.
From the Mountains to the Cities traces p’ogyo from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. While advocates stressed the traditional roots and historical precedents of the practice, they also viewed p’ogyo as an effective method for the transformation of Korean Buddhism into a modern religion—a strategy that proved remarkably resilient as a response to rapidly changing social, political, and legal environments. As an organizational goal, the concerted effort to propagate Buddhism conferred legitimacy and legal recognition on Buddhist temples and institutions, enabled the Buddhist community to compete with religious rivals (especially Christian missionaries), and ultimately provided a vehicle for transforming a “mountain-Buddhism” tradition, as it was pejoratively called, into a more accessible and socially active religion with greater lay participation and a visible presence in the cities.
Ambitious and meticulously researched, From the Mountains to the Cities will find a ready audience among researchers and scholars of Korean history and religion, modern Buddhist reform movements in Asia, and those interested in religious missions and proselytization more generally.
Paul B. Richardson
Debates over the remote and beguiling Southern Kuril Islands have revealed a kaleidoscope of divergent and contradictory ideas, convictions, and beliefs on what constitutes the “national” identity of post-Soviet Russia. Forming part of an archipelago stretching from Kamchatka to Hokkaido, administered by Russia but claimed by Japan, these disputed islands offer new perspectives on the ways in which territorial visions of the nation are refracted, inverted, and remade in a myriad of different ways. At the Edge of the Nation provides a unique account of how the Southern Kurils have shaped the parameters of the Russian state and framed debates on the politics of identity in the post-Soviet era. By shifting the debate beyond a proliferation of Eurocentric and Moscow-focused writings, Paul B. Richardson reveals broad alternatives and possibilities for Russian identity in Asia.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Russia was suffering the fragmentation of empire and a sudden decline in its international standing, these disputed islands became symbolic of a much larger debate on self-image, nationalism, national space, and Russia’s place in world politics. When viewed through the prism of the Southern Kurils, ideas associated with the “border,” “state,” and “nation” become destabilized, uncovering new insights into state-society relations in modern Russia. At the Edge of the Nation explores how disparate groups of political elites have attempted to use these islands to negotiate enduring tensions within Russia’s identity, and traces how the destiny of these isolated yet evocative islands became irrecoverably bound to the destiny of Russia itself.
M. C. Ricklefs
Mangkunagara I (1726-1795) was one of the most flamboyant figures of eighteenth-century Java. A charismatic rebel from 1740 to 1757 and one of the foremost military commanders of his age, he won the loyalty of many followers. He was also a devout Muslim of the Mystic Synthesis style, a devotee of Javanese culture and a lover of beautiful women and Dutch gin. His enemies—the Surakarta court, his uncle the rebel and later Sultan Mangkubumi of Yogyakarta and the Dutch East India Company—were unable to subdue him, even when they united against him. In 1757 he settled as a semi-independent prince in Surakarta, pursuing his objective of as much independence as possible by means other than war, a frustrating time for a man who was a fighter to his fingertips. Professor Ricklefs here employs an extraordinary range of sources in Dutch and Javanese—among them Mangkunagara I’s voluminous autobiographical account of his years at war, the earliest autobiography in Javanese so far known—to bring this important figure to life. As he does so, our understanding of Java’s devastating civil war of the mid-eighteenth century is transformed and much light is shed on Islam and culture in Java.
In this sweeping and ambitious intellectual history, Daniel Veidlinger traces the affinity between Buddhist ideas and communications media back to the efflorescence of Buddhism in the Axial Age of the mid-first millennium BCE. He uses both communications theory and the idea of convergent evolution to show how Buddhism arose in the largely urban milieu of Axial Age northeastern India and spread rapidly along the transportation and trading nodes of the Silk Road, where it appealed to merchants and traders from a variety of backgrounds. Throughout, he compares early phases of Buddhism with contemporary developments in which rapid changes in patterns of social interaction were also experienced and brought about by large-scale urbanization and growth in communication and transportation. In both cases, such changes supported the expansive consciousness needed to allow Buddhism to germinate. Veidlinger argues that Buddhist ideas tend to fare well in certain media environments; through a careful analysis of communications used in these contexts, he finds persuasive parallels with modern advances in communications technology that amplify the conditions and effects found along ancient trade routes. From Indra’s Net to Internet incorporates historical research as well as data collected using computer-based analysis of user-generated web content to demonstrate that robust communication networks, which allow for relatively easy contact among a variety of people, support a de-centered understanding of the self, greater compassion for others, an appreciation of interdependence, a universal outlook, and a reduction in emphasis on the efficacy of ritual—all of which lie at the heart of the Buddha’s teachings. The book’s interdisciplinary approach should appeal to those interested in not only Buddhism, media studies and history, but also computer science, cognitive science, and cultural evolution.
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