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Memory and Agency in Ancient China
Shaping the Life History of Objects


Francis Allard, Yan Sun, Katheryn M. Linduff, Gideon Shelach, Sascha Priewe, Pochan Chen, Yan Sun, Xiaolong Wu, Sheri Lullo, Leslie Wallace, Eileen Lam, Du Hui
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  • Date Published: December 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108472579

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About the Authors
  • Memory and Agency in Ancient China offers a novel perspective on China's material culture. The volume explores the complex 'life histories' of selected objects, whose trajectories as ginle objects ('biographies') and object types ('lineages') cut across both temporal and physical space. The essays, written by a team of international scholars, analyse the objects in an effort to understand how they were shaped by the constraints of their social, political and aesthetic contexts, just as they were also guided by individual preference and capricious memory. They also demonstrate how objects were capable of effecting change. Ranging chronologically from the Neolithic to the present, and spatially from northern to southern mainland China and Taiwan, this book highlights the varied approaches that archaeologists and art historians use when attempting to reconstruct object trajectories. It also showcases the challenges they face, particularly with the unearthing of objects from archaeological contexts that, paradoxically, come to represent the earliest known point of their 'post-recovery lives'.

    • Offers new comparative material to scholars interested in the 'life history' of objects approach
    • Applies the concept of object 'life histories' to the specific case of China
    • Makes a distinction between different types of 'life histories'
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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108472579
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 261 x 185 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.82kg
    • contains: 74 b/w illus. 10 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: memory and agency in Ancient China: shaping the life histories of objects Francis Allard, Yan Sun and Katheryn M. Linduff
    1. Memory, amnesia and the formation of identity symbols in China Gideon Shelach
    2. The lives of shovels and bells in early South China: memory, ritual and the power of destination Francis Allard
    3. The whole and fragmented lives of jade objects from late Neolithic Middle Yangzi river burials (ca. 2000 BC) Sascha Priewe
    4. The social life of salt in Ancient China from the Late Neolithic to the Han Dynasty Pochan Chen
    5. A divergent life history of bronze willow-leaf-shaped swords of Western Zhou China from 11th to c. 10th centuries BCE Yan Sun
    6. Bird-pillar basins and cylindrical vessels: object lineage in Ancient China Xiaolong Wu
    7. Toiletries and the production of social memory from the warring states through the Han (4th c. BCE–3rd c. CE) Sheri Lullo
    8. A biographical approach to the study of the mounted archer motif during the Han Dynasty Leslie Wallace
    9. Dynamic between form and material: the bi disc in Western Han noble burial ritual Eileen Lam
    10. Crossing the Taiwan Strait: contextualizing and re-contextualizing Taiwan Aboriginal Objects (1895–1980) Du Hui
    11. Artifacts that invoke the aura and authority of the ancient Katheryn M. Linduff

  • Editors

    Francis Allard, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    Francis Allard is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University, Pennsylvania. Allard is a scholar of complex societies, nomadic pastoralism, and the expansion of the Han Empire.

    Yan Sun, Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania
    Yan Sun is Professor of Art History at Gettysburg College. A scholar of the bronze cultures in north China, she is co-author of Ancient China and its Eurasian Neighbors (Cambridge, 2017).

    Kathryn M. Linduff, University of Pittsburgh
    Katheryn Linduff is Professor Emerita at the University of Pittsburgh. A specialist in the art and archaeology of Eurasia and East Asia, she is most recently co-author of Ancient China and its Eurasian Neighbors (Cambridge, 2017) and editor of several books.


    Francis Allard, Yan Sun, Katheryn M. Linduff, Gideon Shelach, Sascha Priewe, Pochan Chen, Yan Sun, Xiaolong Wu, Sheri Lullo, Leslie Wallace, Eileen Lam, Du Hui

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