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Against the Western "Barbarian": Narrating Bodily Resistance in Early Nineteenth-Century China





身體 妖魔化 西方人 西方主義 抵抗

Parallel abstracts

Sinologists have made extensive use of Said's model of Orientalism and Foucault's discussion of race to research China's self-image and representation of Westerners, but the Chinese body has not received enough attention. My paper adds to this scholarship by investigating the Chinese construction of an embodied self against the Western body in the first half of the nineteenth century, the opening phase of unprecedentedly intense physical confrontation with the West, and demonstrates how ideologies active in the hegemonic discourse to contain and dominate function as opposition to domination on the part of the invaded. Engaging Occidentalism and postcolonial theories of race, I examine texts from scholarly works and official letters to writings distributed among the common people, to argue that by mapping the "barbarians'" monstrous and yet not invincible physicality, the Chinese sought to construct their bodies as superior, victimized and yet regenerative, in resistance to invasion. My first section looks at the invention, inheritance, and reinforcement of stereotypes about Westerners' physical deformity, which were employed when demand for self-defense arose. Section two uses post-colonial theories to analyze the mentality and literary techniques in the rhetoric of resistance. Next, I examine textual reactions to Western devastation of the Chinese body, focusing on the victimized self and the difficulty of resistance, which are contrasted to in the following section, where I investigate texts portraying a regenerative self that conquers the Western body. Such representations register a proactive defense of Chinese identity when the people's epistemological frames were severely challenged during the painful "Open Door." All four sections underline the reversal of a Eurocentric discourse about race and an Orientalized East, the theme of which I revisit in the conclusion, with a reflection on the continuity and evolution of Chinese Occidentalism and self-image into the twentieth century.

Parallel keywords

body demonization Westerner Occidentalism resistance


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