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Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860–1960

$105.00 (C)

  • Date Published: April 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108478281

$ 105.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Taking aim at the conventional narrative that standard, national languages transform 'peasants' into citizens, Gina Anne Tam centers the history of the Chinese nation and national identity on fangyan - languages like Shanghainese, Cantonese, and dozens of others that are categorically different from the Chinese national language, Mandarin. She traces how, on the one hand, linguists, policy-makers, bureaucrats and workaday educators framed fangyan as non-standard 'variants' of the Chinese language, subsidiary in symbolic importance to standard Mandarin. She simultaneously highlights, on the other hand, the folksong collectors, playwrights, hip-hop artists and popular protestors who argued that fangyan were more authentic and representative of China's national culture and its history. From the late Qing through the height of the Maoist period, these intertwined visions of the Chinese nation - one spoken in one voice, one spoken in many - interacted and shaped one another, and in the process, shaped the basis for national identity itself.

    • Challenges the widely accepted historical narrative that language standardization creates national citizens
    • Introduces a novel way of studying nationalism that highlights diverse visions of the nation without ignoring those who seek to maintain it as a homogenous concept
    • Encourages readers to expand the history of information methodology to consider both how knowledge is constructed and how that knowledge is filtered down and subsequently shapes all areas of public and private life
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Tam’s groundbreaking book transforms our understanding of Chinese nationalism by establishing how fangyan have served as both targets for language standardization projects and resources for cultural diversity and communal sentiment. It also reconstructs the complex genealogy of Chinese linguistics as an academic discipline and reveals its fraught relationship to the modern state.' Robert J Culp, Bard College, New York

    'Every scholar of Chinese society needs an understanding of how Mandarin became standardized as the national language and how local languages have nonetheless survived. Gina Anne Tam not only gives us that history but, importantly, demonstrates that the relationship between dialect and nation could have been different.' Sigrid Schmalzer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    'Tam's impressive debut book provides readers with a theoretically sophisticated, clearly argued and gracefully written account of the complex relationship between language and nationalism in modern China. The author moves across a broad chronological and geographic canvass, making claims rooted in history and based on careful archive research. Though about the past, however, Dialect and Nationalism also speaks to issues making headlines now, at a time when struggles in which language and identity figure centrally play out everywhere from Catalonia to Hong Kong.' Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine

    ‘... learned and thoughtful study ... ’ Andrew J. Nathan, Foreign Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108478281
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A Chinese language: Fangyan before the twentieth century
    2. Unchangeable roots: Fangyan and the creation of a national language
    3. The sounds of authenticity: defining linguistic modernity in Republican China
    4. The people's language: Fangyan under the CCP
    5. The Mandarin revolution: the great leap to a standard language

  • Resources for

    Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860–1960

    Gina Anne Tam

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  • Author

    Gina Anne Tam, Trinity University, Texas
    Gina Anne Tam is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History at Trinity University, Texas.

Realted Links

Featured on the UCI Long Institute’s video series “longshorts”

Featured on the Barbarians at the Gate podcast

Featured on Los Angeles Review of Books China Channel

Post on the Visualising China blog

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