Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China

Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China

by Mu-chou Poo, Muzhou Pu
     
 

ISBN-10: 0791463648

ISBN-13: 9780791463642

Pub. Date: 02/03/2005

Publisher: State University of New York Press

Looks at how foreigners were regarded in three ancient civilizations, finding that cultural, not biophysical, differences were key in distinguishing "us" from "them."

Enemies of Civilization is a work of comparative history and cultural consciousness that discusses how “others” were perceived in three ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt,

Overview

Looks at how foreigners were regarded in three ancient civilizations, finding that cultural, not biophysical, differences were key in distinguishing "us" from "them."

Enemies of Civilization is a work of comparative history and cultural consciousness that discusses how “others” were perceived in three ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Each civilization was the dominant culture in its part of the world, and each developed a mind-set that regarded itself as culturally superior to its neighbors. Mu-chou Poo compares these societies’ attitudes toward other cultures and finds differences and similarities that reveal the self-perceptions of each society.

Notably, this work shows that in contrast to modern racism based on biophysical features, such prejudice did not exist in these ancient societies. It was culture rather than biophysical nature that was the most important criterion for distinguishing us from them. By examining how societies conceive their prejudices, this book breaks new ground in the study of ancient history and opens new ways to look at human society, both ancient and modern.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780791463642
Publisher:
State University of New York Press
Publication date:
02/03/2005
Series:
SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
229
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.58(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

List of Abbreviations

Chronological Table

1. Introduction

The Question about The Others
Ethnic Theories and Ancient History
Choice of Subjects
About the Comparative Study of History
Structure, Scope, and Sources

2. In Search of Cultural Identity

Geography
Language
Looking for Foreigners

3. Representations

Designations of Self and Others
Textual and Graphic Evidence

4. Relations and Attitudes

Enemies
Demons
Friends and Allies
From Apprehension to Appreciation

5. Foreigners Within

Social Positions
Foreign Goods and Languages

6. The Transformation of the Barbarians

To Assimilate or Not to Assimilate
Between Ideology and Reality

7. Conclusion

The Illusive Others
Official Ideology and Private Sentiments
The Comparative Gaze
The Problem of Great Civilizations

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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