9781137268907

Liberal Barbarism The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781137268907

  • ISBN10:

    1137268905

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-09-19
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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Summary

In Liberal Barbarism, Erik Ringmar sets out to explain the 1860 destruction of Yuanmingyuan - the Chinese imperial palace north-west of Beijing - at the hands of British and French armies. Yuanmingyuan was the emperor's own theme-park, a perfect world, a vision of paradise, which housed one of the greatest collections of works of art ever assembled. The intellectual puzzle which the book addresses concerns why the Europeans, bent on "civilizing" the Chinese, engaged in this act of barbarism. The answer is provided through an analysis of the performative aspect of the confrontation between Europe and China, focusing on the differences in the way their respective international systems were conceptualized. Ringmar reveals that the destruction of Yuanmingyuan represented the Europeans' campaign to "shock and awe" the Chinese, thereby forcing them to give up their way of organizing international relations. The contradictions which the events of 1860 exemplify - the contradiction between civilization and barbarism - is a theme running through all European (and North American) relations with the rest of the world since, including, most recently, the US war in Iraq.

Author Biography

Erik Ringmar is Zhiyuan Chair in International Relations at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China. He received his PhD in political science at Yale University in 1993 and for 12 years worked in the Government Department at the London School of Economics. Previous books include Identity, Interest and Action (CUP, 2008) and The Mechanics of Modernity in Europe and East Asia (Routledge, 2005).

Table of Contents

PART I: INTRODUCTION
Liberals and Barbarians
An Awesome Performance
PART II: THE DESTRUCTION OF YUANMINGYUAN
An Imperial Theme Park
The North China Campaign of 1860
Enter the Barbarians
PART III: LIBERAL BARBARIANS
Assembling the Liberal Script
Performing the Liberal Script
War in the Age of Sensation
Striking the Chinese with Awe
PART IV: CONCLUSION
An Eternal Object

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