Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes Toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China (SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)

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Ancient civilisations came into contact with one another through various channels, including trade and exchange, and warfare, which inevitably led to differentiation between 'us' and 'them'. The ways in which ancient societies conceived of this difference, and how it manifested itself in their culture, is the subject of this comparative history of attitudes towards foreigners in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and China. Rather than examining each civilisation in turn, Mu-chou Poo approaches the subject thematically exploring primarily textual evidence for key concepts such as 'self', ethnic identity, prejudice, cultural consciousness, and asks where these attitudes originated, why they came about and on what grounds they were based. What he finds is that, unlike today, foreignness was not thught of as a racial or biological difference, but was the result of cultural difference, involving issues of geography, language, religion and socio-economic development.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791463642
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 2/3/2005
  • Series: SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 211
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Mu-chou Poo is Professor and Research Fellow in the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He is the author of several books, including In Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion, also published by SUNY Press.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


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

Looking for Foreigners

3. Representations

Designations of Self and Others
Textual and Graphic Evidence

4. Relations and Attitudes

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




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