Using this service, Chinespod, I wonder at times, how people of the different language groups of the 華人 consider the theoretical nature of Chineseness. History, language, food, writing system, customs? All seem to vary a great deal within Greater China and its communities worldwide.
Some aspects of history can be a point to think a certain degree of familiarness to what it is to be Chinese. This question could be thrown the other way, what is to be European/Western, Latino, African, etc. Until about 500-600 years ago, the Japanese were proud of their Chineseness, but division of "race" ( forgive the archaic word which is meaningless in scientific terms, but still socially used) had further been reinforced with European colonial powers.
This could call for another lesson, but I would like to hear some insights on the concept of Chineseness.
markAugust 22, 2009, 10:35 PM
One observation from Jerod Diamond's <Gun, Germs and Steel> is that the land occupied by present day China lends itself to unification more so than does Europe due to a comparative absense of geographic obsticles between regions.
So, one possible definition of Chineseness would be anyone who's ancestors inhabitted the region which has been unified, with intermitent episodes of division and civil war, since 221 B.C.
user26513August 23, 2009, 10:28 AM
Allen Chun's critique of Chineseness, (http://www.flipkart.com/unstructuring-chinese-society-allen-chun/0415285658-hww3fwpkfd) mostly regarding his multiple associations from Chinese, Cantonese, American, and Taiwanese(he held or still holds a position at Academia Sinica in Taipei) have a lot to do with context.
I guess one danger with 種族 or ethnicity，it is more often than not constructed with borders. Why not think of the Asian ethnicity and languages...
Any 華僑 or people from parts of the greater China have an opinion on this?
changyeAugust 23, 2009, 02:00 PM
Japanese intelligentsia had traditionally admired Chinese classical literatures, but not "Chineseness" in a broad sense. Ancient Japanese leaders introduced governing and law systems (and etc.) from China, but (thankfully) didn't introduce two very Chinese systems, that is to say, the Chinese Imperial Examination (科举) and the Eunuch system (宦官). Ancient Japanese mainly imported Chinese things that fit Japanese culture, society and the Japanese way of thinking.
I think that the people who had historically been most immersed in Chinese culture was Korean. They introduced both 科举 and 宦官 very early, and even changed their Korean-style names into Chinese style ones in the 8th century out of their strong "love" to China. Furthermore, they were very proud of calling their country "小中华" (소중화, small China), especially during the era of Qing dynasty (清朝), which was established by Manchu people that Korean had strongly despised.
The Korean word "事大交隣主義"(사대교린주의), or "to serve the great China", is also a good example. This traditional Korean diplomatic policy maintained until 1897, when Korea became fully independent from China as a result of the first Sino-Japanese war (1894). Lastly, Korean espouse Confucianism more earnestly than Chinese, and consequently, Confucian conservatism and dogmatism seriously retarded modernization and commercialization in Korea.
In short, Japan was not a good student of "China School" compared to Korea, hehe.
changyeAugust 24, 2009, 05:22 AM
I'm not so sure about the definitions of Chineseness, race, ethnicity, and national identity. All I can say is that it depends. Imagine a second generation Chinese-American guy who can't speak Mandarin well. If he wins the Nobel prize, the "Chinese" part would probably be deliberately emphasized in mainland China. If he commits a crime and gets arrested, unfortunately, the guy would be just regarded as one of those American citizens. No mainlander cares. I guess that being a "beloved by mainlanders" Chinese is actually not an easy job, even for mainlanders. Such is Chineseness, perhaps.
changyeAugust 24, 2009, 10:13 AM
Surprisingly, the book "Unstructuring Chinese Society" user26513 mentioned above is already shown in Google Books!