This book addresses the historical relationship that has arisen between the concept of capitalism and the idea of China. Formulated by European intellectuals in order to identify the social formation in which they found themselves, capitalism was portrayed as unique to Europe and as an organic outgrowth of Western civilization. In this way, China was rejected as a model of civilization, and seen merely as despotic, feudal or stagnant. This Eurocentric judgement has hung over all subsequent thinking about China, even influencing Chinese perceptions of their own history. The aim of this collaborative project is to examine how the experience of capitalism as a European social formation and as a world-system has shaped knowledge of China. In addition the volume aims to establish new foundations on which a theory of Chinese society might be built, in order to perceive and understand Chinese development in less Eurocentric terms.
• Provides a new understanding of capitalism and the intellectual effects of this model, and corrects the distortion of viewing China through the capitalist lens • Incorporates the most recent thinking on the nature of Chinese society • Brings together outstanding social theorist of world history (Wallerstein) with four leading China specialists
Introduction Gregory Blue and Timothy Brook; 1. The West, capitalism and the modern world-system Immanuel Wallerstein; 2. China and Western social thought Gregory Blue; 3. Capitalism and the writing of modern history in China Timothy Brook; 4. Toward a critical history of non-Western technology Francesca Bray; 5. The political economy of agrarian Empire and its modern legacy R. Bin Wong; Bibliography.