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Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China (Cultural Sociology)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Liberal Barbarism, Erik Ringmar sets out to explain the 1860 destruction of Yuanmingyuan - the Chinese imperial palace north-west of Beijing - at the hands of British and French armies. Yuanmingyuan was the emperor's own theme-park, a perfect world, a vision of paradise, which housed one of the greatest collections of works of art ever assembled. The intellectual puzzle which the book addresses concerns why the Europeans, bent on "civilizing" the Chinese, engaged in this act of barbarism. The answer is provided through an analysis of the performative aspect of the confrontation between Europe and China, focusing on the differences in the way their respective international systems were conceptualized. Ringmar reveals that the destruction of Yuanmingyuan represented the Europeans' campaign to "shock and awe" the Chinese, thereby forcing them to give up their way of organizing international relations. The contradictions which the events of 1860 exemplify - the contradiction between civilization and barbarism - is a theme running through all European (and North American) relations with the rest of the world since, including, most recently, the US war in Iraq.

Synopsis:

In 1860 a combined Anglo-French army destroyed Yuanmingyuan, the palaces and gardens of the emperor of China northwest of Beijing. Yuanmingyuan was the emperor's own theme-park, a perfect world, a vision of paradise on earth which housed one of the greatest collections of works of art ever assembled. The reason for the destruction, the Europeans explained, was that they wanted to 'civilize' the Chinese. In this volume Erik Ringmar elucidates how this "civilization" came to be spread by barbarian means.

About the Author

Erik Ringmar is Zhiyuan Chair in International Relations at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China. He received his PhD in political science at Yale University in 1993 and for 12 years worked in the Government Department at the London School of Economics. Previous books include Identity, Interest and Action (CUP, 2008) and The Mechanics of Modernity in Europe and East Asia (Routledge, 2005).

Table of Contents

PART I: INTRODUCTION

Liberals and Barbarians

An Awesome Performance

PART II: THE DESTRUCTION OF YUANMINGYUAN

An Imperial Theme Park

The North China Campaign of 1860

Enter the Barbarians

PART III: LIBERAL BARBARIANS

Assembling the Liberal Script

Performing the Liberal Script

War in the Age of Sensation

Striking the Chinese with Awe

PART IV: CONCLUSION

An Eternal Object

Product Details

ISBN:
9781137268907
Author:
Ringmar, Erik
Publisher:
Palgrave MacMillan
Subject:
Media Studies
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Asia - China
Subject:
International Relations - General
Subject:
Political Ideologies - Conservatism & Liberalism
Subject:
Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
Publication Date:
20130931
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
14 b/w illustrations
Pages:
268
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Media
History and Social Science » Sociology » Regional Studies

Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China (Cultural Sociology) New Hardcover
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Product details 268 pages Palgrave MacMillan - English 9781137268907 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
In 1860 a combined Anglo-French army destroyed Yuanmingyuan, the palaces and gardens of the emperor of China northwest of Beijing. Yuanmingyuan was the emperor's own theme-park, a perfect world, a vision of paradise on earth which housed one of the greatest collections of works of art ever assembled. The reason for the destruction, the Europeans explained, was that they wanted to 'civilize' the Chinese. In this volume Erik Ringmar elucidates how this "civilization" came to be spread by barbarian means.
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