THE CLASH OF EMPIRES

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Harvard University Press, 2004 - History - 318 pages
2 Reviews

What is lost in translation may be a war, a world, a way of life. A unique look into the nineteenth-century clash of empires from both sides of the earthshaking encounter, this book reveals the connections between international law, modern warfare, and comparative grammar--and their influence on the shaping of the modern world in Eastern and Western terms.

The Clash of Empires brings to light the cultural legacy of sovereign thinking that emerged in the course of the violent meetings between the British Empire and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Lydia Liu demonstrates how the collision of imperial will and competing interests, rather than the civilizational attributes of existing nations and cultures, led to the invention of "China," "the East," "the West," and the modern notion of "the world" in recent history. Drawing on her archival research and comparative analyses of English--and Chinese--language texts, as well as their respective translations, she explores how the rhetoric of barbarity and civilization, friend and enemy, and discourses on sovereign rights, injury, and dignity were a central part of British imperial warfare. Exposing the military and philological--and almost always translingual--nature of the clash of empires, this book provides a startlingly new interpretation of modern imperial history.

  

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semiotics of Empire

Review: The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making

User Review  - Jeremy Hurdis - Goodreads

A really great book when it comes to understanding language, translation, and international law. I thin psychoanalysis could have played an interesting role, but is absent. More pressingly, I think ... Read full review

Contents

The Semiotic Turn of International Politics
5
The Birth of a SuperSign
31
Figuring Sovereignty
70
Translating International Law
108
The Secret of Her Greatness
140
The Sovereign Subject of Grammar
181
The Emperors Empty Throne
210
Lin Zexus Communication to Queen Victoria
229
Notes
243
Glossary of Selected Chinese Characters
297
Index
301
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Liu is Professor of Comparative Literature and Helmut F. Stern Professor in Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan.

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