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How the Past was UsedHistorical cultures, c. 750-2000$
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Peter Lambert and Björn Weiler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266120

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266120.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Chinese History as a Constructed Continuity

Chinese History as a Constructed Continuity

The Work of Rao Zongyi

(p.259) 11. Chinese History as a Constructed Continuity
How the Past was Used

T. H. Barrett

British Academy

The continuity of Chinese history, through the unfolding of the ‘dynastic cycle’ of its successive imperial regimes, has been taken as one of the great truisms of discourse on China. Yet assertions of cultural continuity in China have emerged in recent research much more as tendentious fictions, cultural artefacts themselves designed to stitch together disparate elements over time—the daotong or ‘Transmission of the Way’ proposed by Neo-Confucians, is one good example. And looking at Chinese history as a sequence of political powers, the transmission of what was seen as a form of imperium, zhengtong, or ‘Correct Succession’, has also long been considered as technically problematic. The modern scholar Rao Zongyi has a well-researched monograph on these debates that deserves to be better known, especially as history as an element in Chinese identity is now coming to assume an increased contemporary importance.

Keywords:   Rao Zongyi, Chinese history, Chinese identity, imperial regimes, cultural artefacts, zhengtong, daotong

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