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Title: Ethnicity and Foreigners in Ancient Greece and China: A comparative Analysis of the Histories of Herodotus and the Shiji of Sima Qian.
Author: Kim, Hyun Jin
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
This thesis is a comparative analysis of the representation of foreigners in Ancient Greece and China. It argues that Archaic and Classical Greece was an integral part of the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern civilization and that this had a major impact on the ways in which the Greeks chose to represent foreigners in their literature. It also seeks to show that the Ancient Chinese of the Han dynasty were as assertive as the Greeks in claiming their ethnic superiority over non-Chinese, but concludes that, although the two cultures shared the same breadth and variety of prejudices towards outsiders, they, nonetheless, due to historical, political and cultural circumstances, chose to emphasize different categories of differentiation. Through the examination of the two principal texts chosen for the analysis, the Shiji and the Histories, and other primary sources, the thesis demonstrates the similarities and differences between the Greek and Han Chinese representations of foreigners, both nomadic and sedentary. It is observed that both the Chinese and the Greek representations of nomads are remarkably similar, reflecting the real, noticeable differences in material culture between the sedentary worlds of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Zhong Yuan (central China) on the one hand and the arid steppe world on the other. However, in contrast, it is observed that the Chinese and the Greeks differ markedly in their approach and attitudes towards their sedentary neighbours. It is noted that the most significant differentiating features identified by Chinese writers between the Zhong Guo (China) and the barbarian are always material culture and moral standards of behaviour, relating mainly to ritual practice. This, it is argued in the thesis, is a reflection of the cultural dominance ofthe Han empire in the East Asian region that saw no significant rivals emerge to challenge that ideologically sinocentric world order. In contrast, the Greeks, who were relative new-comers to the family of civilized ethne in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East and who were acutely conscious of the youth of their civilization vis-a.-vis the much older cultures of the Near East, chose to emphasize more subjective categories of differentiation to highlight their ethnic specificity and 'superiority' over their sedentary rivals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: University of Oxford, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.487125  DOI: Not available
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