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postgraduate thesis: Negotiating Chinese modernity: British imperialism and the late Qing reforms

TitleNegotiating Chinese modernity: British imperialism and the late Qing reforms
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Tong, QS
Issue Date2013
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Wang, D. [王冬青]. (2013). Negotiating Chinese modernity : British imperialism and the late Qing reforms. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5066229
Abstract This thesis offers a critical analysis of the intellectual and institutional transformations in late Qing China. The Western invasion of China in the second half of the nineteenth century contributed to the making of modern China. Focusing on the late Qing reforms in the fields of law, public rituals, education, and economy, this thesis investigates China’s efforts and strategies to negotiate with British imperialism in its search for modernity. Situating the late Qing reforms in a semicolonial context, it questions the established view that Chinese modernity is either a mimicked version of Euro-American modernity or an instance of “colonial modernity.” With special reference to the British imperialist practices in China, the thesis seeks to show how the diffused and fragmented presence of Western imperialism produced a distinctive form of semicolonial modernity, and how it allowed China to recognize the West both as a source of oppression and as an instrument of resistance. The thesis is conceptually organized. Each chapter focuses on a major aspect of the late Qing reforms and investigates a specific institutional change. The thesis not only shows how semicolonialism helped produce Western knowledge about legal liberty, social equality, scientific inquiry, and corporate capital, but also provides a critical analysis of semicolonial institutions, such as modern colleges, state-sponsored enterprises, and extraterritorial courts, in which alternative models of social governance could be envisioned, compared, and practiced. Chapter 1 investigates the Lady Hughes dispute and explores the connections between the British discourse on legal liberty and the creation of judicial extraterritoriality in China. It argues that British legal liberalism and Qing legal pluralism failed to understand each other but they collaborated to establish British extraterritoriality in China. Chapter 2 examines how the British critique of koutou produced a revolutionary discourse on human dignity and social equality in China. It shows how the Chinese reformers accepted the Orientalist interpretations of koutou and discusses the role of Orientalism in the formation of Chinese modernity. Chapter 3 explores the historical continuity between British liberal education and the rise of scientific education in late Qing China. Focusing on the role of the Western Protestant missionaries in the curricular reforms and the abolition of the imperial civil service examinations, it shows how the idea of liberal education challenged Confucian meritocracy and helped create the modern Chinese subject. In reference to Zheng Guanying and the state-sponsored enterprises, Chapter 4 investigates the role of corporate capital and comprador entrepreneurs in the creation of the modern Chinese state. It demonstrates that the joint-stock corporation allowed the self-reforming Qing government to collaborate with and make use of private capital. Finally, tracing the historical legacy of the late Qing reforms, the thesis attempts to show that Chinese modernity is an unfinished project that compels us to examine its semicolonial origins.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
Dept/ProgramEnglish
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/191204

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorTong, QS-
dc.contributor.authorWang, Dongqing-
dc.contributor.author王冬青-
dc.date.accessioned2013-09-30T15:52:34Z-
dc.date.available2013-09-30T15:52:34Z-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationWang, D. [王冬青]. (2013). Negotiating Chinese modernity : British imperialism and the late Qing reforms. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5066229-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/191204-
dc.description.abstract This thesis offers a critical analysis of the intellectual and institutional transformations in late Qing China. The Western invasion of China in the second half of the nineteenth century contributed to the making of modern China. Focusing on the late Qing reforms in the fields of law, public rituals, education, and economy, this thesis investigates China’s efforts and strategies to negotiate with British imperialism in its search for modernity. Situating the late Qing reforms in a semicolonial context, it questions the established view that Chinese modernity is either a mimicked version of Euro-American modernity or an instance of “colonial modernity.” With special reference to the British imperialist practices in China, the thesis seeks to show how the diffused and fragmented presence of Western imperialism produced a distinctive form of semicolonial modernity, and how it allowed China to recognize the West both as a source of oppression and as an instrument of resistance. The thesis is conceptually organized. Each chapter focuses on a major aspect of the late Qing reforms and investigates a specific institutional change. The thesis not only shows how semicolonialism helped produce Western knowledge about legal liberty, social equality, scientific inquiry, and corporate capital, but also provides a critical analysis of semicolonial institutions, such as modern colleges, state-sponsored enterprises, and extraterritorial courts, in which alternative models of social governance could be envisioned, compared, and practiced. Chapter 1 investigates the Lady Hughes dispute and explores the connections between the British discourse on legal liberty and the creation of judicial extraterritoriality in China. It argues that British legal liberalism and Qing legal pluralism failed to understand each other but they collaborated to establish British extraterritoriality in China. Chapter 2 examines how the British critique of koutou produced a revolutionary discourse on human dignity and social equality in China. It shows how the Chinese reformers accepted the Orientalist interpretations of koutou and discusses the role of Orientalism in the formation of Chinese modernity. Chapter 3 explores the historical continuity between British liberal education and the rise of scientific education in late Qing China. Focusing on the role of the Western Protestant missionaries in the curricular reforms and the abolition of the imperial civil service examinations, it shows how the idea of liberal education challenged Confucian meritocracy and helped create the modern Chinese subject. In reference to Zheng Guanying and the state-sponsored enterprises, Chapter 4 investigates the role of corporate capital and comprador entrepreneurs in the creation of the modern Chinese state. It demonstrates that the joint-stock corporation allowed the self-reforming Qing government to collaborate with and make use of private capital. Finally, tracing the historical legacy of the late Qing reforms, the thesis attempts to show that Chinese modernity is an unfinished project that compels us to examine its semicolonial origins.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B50662296-
dc.titleNegotiating Chinese modernity: British imperialism and the late Qing reforms-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5066229-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5066229-
dc.date.hkucongregation2013-

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