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Title: Mirrors of inscrutability : British textual representation of China and the Chinese, 1880-1940
Author: Smith, David Lloyd.
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 1998
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This dissertation explores British representations of China and the Chinese from around 1880 to 1940. It maintains that much Western representation of China and the Chinese is influenced by a profound psychic need to establish identity through constructions of Otherness. A yearning for Lacan's Imaginary state of undifferentiated presence -- in which the Self manages to eradicate the distance separating it from the Other -- is a particularly significant element in much of the representation. However, the focus is not exclusively psychoanalytical, and the tools provided, for instance, by the Foucauldian and Gramscian models are also employed where appropriate. It is finally concluded that no one theoretical model can hope to adequately address the sheer heterogeneity of representation of Otherness; and that it is crucial to adopt a broad epistemological approach. As for representations of China specifically, the study provides evidence that such representations often have little to do with China and the Chinese per se, but function rather as "mirrors" of domestic Western concerns and pre-occupations; and second, that, once forged, such representations have a remarkable lineage, being reproduced throughout the centuries to serve differing, and often contradictory, ideological purposes. One key finding is that the productive duality of China -- being, on the one hand, both remote and exotic, and yet strangely familiar and non-threatening on the other, lent itself well to it being both a psychic and an ideological mirror of British preoccupations, fears and desires.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available