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Shows how the emerging Chinese empire purposely reconceived but was also constrained by basic spatial units such as the body, the household, the region, and the world.
This book examines the formation of the Chinese empire through its reorganization and reinterpretation of its basic spatial units: the human body, the household, the city, the region, and the world. The central theme of the book is the way all these forms of ordered space were reshaped by the project of unification and how, at the same time, that unification was constrained and limited by the necessary survival of the units on which it was based. Consequently, as Mark Edward Lewis shows, each level of spatial organization could achieve order and meaning only within an encompassing, superior whole: the body within the household, the household within the lineage and state, the city within the region, and the region within the world empire, while each level still contained within itself the smaller units from which it was formed. The unity that was the empire’s highest goal avoided collapse back into the original chaos of nondistinction only by preserving within itself the very divisions on the basis of family or region that it claimed to transcend.
“Mark Edward Lewis is one of the most productive and consistently interesting figures in Chinese studies today … Lewis has embarked upon an ambitious path to deal with significant conceptual issues in early Chinese thought … [an] excellent work.” — Dao
“Thanks to the scholarship, astonishing industry, and thoughtful care of the author, this weighty volume will no doubt be found as well-worn reference on the shelf of any student who would continue to explore the longevity and vitality of the state structure developed in China over two thousand years ago.” — Journal of Asian History
“Lewis’s clear, readable study is worthwhile for stimulating new insights in Chinese thought and culture.” — Religious Studies Review
“This work is impressively learned and provides a splendid sense of early Chinese political culture and social ecology. Lewis has an admirable ability to create tight, complex, elegant formulations that summarize the evidence efficiently and effectively, an ability to occupy the analytical heights, survey the complex terrain below, and seize on the significance of particular details. The book will serve as an almost encyclopedic reference for early China and its fascinating lore.” David N. Keightley, author of The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 12001045 B.C.)
“This book has an inherent value for its comparative studies and its dedication to bridge the specialized study of early China with other scholarly disciplines, such as Western philosophy and anthropology. The author’s masterful synthesis of the vast primary and secondary sources is a great contribution.” Aihe Wang, author of Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China
Mark Edward Lewis is Kwoh-ting Li Professor of Chinese Culture at Stanford University and the author of Writing and Authority in Early China, also published by SUNY Press.
Table of Contents
Units of Spatial Order
The Empire and the Reconstruction of Space
1. The Human Body
Discovery of the Body in the Fourth Century b.c.
The Composite Body
Interfaces of the Body
2. The Household
Households as Political Units
Households as Residential Units
Households as Units of Larger Networks
The Household Divided
Household and Tomb
3. Cities and Capitals
The World of the City-States
Cities of the Warring States and Early Empires
Invention of the Imperial Capital
4. Regions and Customs
The Warring States Philosophical Critique of Custom
Custom and Region
Regions and the Great Families
Regional and Local Cults
Rhapsodies on Regions
5. World and Cosmos
Grids and Magic Squares
The Bright Hall and Ruler-Centered Models
Mirrors, Diviner’s Boards, and Other Cosmic Charts
Mountains and World Models