English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China

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Duke University Press, Dec 15, 2003 - History - 387 pages
2 Reviews
Inserting China into the history of nineteenth-century colonialism, English Lessons explores the ways that Euroamerican imperial powers humiliated the Qing monarchy and disciplined the Qing polity in the wake of multipower invasions of China in 1860 and 1900. Focusing on the processes by which Great Britain enacted a pedagogical project that was itself a form of colonization, James L. Hevia demonstrates how British actors instructed the Manchu-Chinese elite on “proper” behavior in a world dominated by multiple imperial powers. Their aim was to “bring China low” and make it a willing participant in British strategic goals in Asia. These lessons not only transformed the Qing dynasty but ultimately contributed to its destruction.

Hevia analyzes British Foreign Office documents, diplomatic memoirs, auction house and museum records, nineteenth-century scholarly analyses of Chinese history and culture, campaign records, and photographs. He shows how Britain refigured its imperial project in
China as a cultural endeavor through examinations of the circulation of military loot in Europe, the creation of an art history of “things Chinese,” the construction of a field of knowledge about China, and the Great Game rivalry between Britain, Russia, and the Qing empire in Central Asia. In so doing, he illuminates the impact of these elements on the colonial project and the creation of a national consciousness in China.


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Review: English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China

User Review  - Heather - Goodreads

English Lessons is a fascinating look into relationships between China and Western countries. I recommend paying attention to the terminology in the introduction, as this is written in an academic ... Read full review

Review: English Lessons: The Pedagogy of Imperialism in Nineteenth-Century China

User Review  - Jeremy Hurdis - Goodreads

Hevia always seems to provide very careful attention to his historical objects. I would like to have seen more in this book about how capitalism emerged out of the British actions in China, especially ... Read full review


Introduction Imperialism Colonialism and China
The Arrow War 18561860
Violence and the Rule of Law in China 18561858
Beijing 1860 Loot Prize and a Solemn Art of Retribution
Constructing a New Order
The Qing Empire in the Era of European Global Hegemony
A Reign of Terror Punishment and Retribution in Beijing and Its Environs
Desacralizing Qing Sovereignty 19001901
Mnemonic Devices Memorializing the West as Victim and Hero
The Return of the Repressed Recirculations and Chinese Patriotism

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About the author (2003)

James L. Hevia is Chair of the Curriculum in International and Area Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His book Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Embassy of 1793 (published by Duke University Press) won the Joseph Levenson Prize from the Association for Asian Studies.

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