Harvard East Asian Monographs 230.; Until 350 years ago, the Chinese considered Taiwan a "savage island" beyond the pale of Chinese civilization. When the Qing conquered the island in 1683, the court debated the value of colonizing this "ball of mud". Yet, two centuries later, in 1895, Chinese writers lamented the island's cession to Japan as a loss of sacred national territory.
Taiwan's trajectory from "savage island" to China's "sovereign territory" is the subject of this book. The author argues that colonial travel writing, ethnographic illustrations, and maps were central to this transformation and that traveler's representations of Taiwan played a vital role in expressing and producing Chinese ideologies of imperial expansion and race. At the same time, travel writing and images of the frontiers transformed the imagined geography of the Chinese empire itself, as the Qing doubled the empire's territory. By representing distant lands and frontier peoples to audiences in China proper, these works converted places once considered non-Chinese into familiar parts or the empire. They dramatically changed the idea of the geographic and ethnic boundaries of "China" - creating the imagined geography behind PRC conceptions of China's "sovereign territory" and its claims to places like Taiwan and Tibet. This book challenges prevailing preconceptions of the "colonizer" and "colonized" by examining a non-Western imperial power and its representations of colonial "others" and suggests the possibility of meeting points between Western and Chinese colonial discourses. This work further debunks the notion that Taiwan has been a part of China since antiquity by showing how the Taiwan-China relation emerged from the history of Qing colonialism.
Published by Harvard University Asia Center, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and London, 2004 | Hardcover
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