9781137268914

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

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781137268914

  • ISBN10:

    1137268913

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-09-03
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
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Summary

This work explains why British and French armies destroyed Yuanmingyuan, the imperial palace north-west of Beijing in 1860. Yuanmingyuan was the main residence of the Chinese emperors, a large collection of gardens and buildings filled with precious objects, together representing the imperial view of the world. 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. The destruction of Yuanmingyuan was the European's attempt to strike the Chinese with awe and force 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, including, most recently, the US war in Iraq.

Author Biography

Erik Ringmar is Professor of Political Science at Lund University, Sweden.

Table of Contents

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

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