By Mu-Chou Poo

Looks at how foreigners have been seemed in 3 old civilizations, discovering that cultural, no longer biophysical, adjustments have been key in distinguishing "us" from "them."

Enemies of Civilization is a piece of comparative heritage and cultural attention that discusses how “others” have been perceived in 3 historical civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. every one civilization used to be the dominant tradition in its a part of the realm, and every constructed a way of thinking that seemed itself as culturally more desirable to its pals. Mu-chou Poo compares those societies’ attitudes towards different cultures and reveals transformations and similarities that display the self-perceptions of every society.

Notably, this paintings exhibits that during distinction to fashionable racism in response to biophysical positive factors, such prejudice didn't exist in those historic societies. It used to be tradition instead of biophysical nature that used to be crucial criterion for distinguishing us from them. via analyzing how societies conceive their prejudices, this booklet breaks new floor within the learn of old background and opens new how one can examine human society, either old and modern.

Mu-chou Poo is Professor and examine Fellow within the Institute of background and Philology at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. he's the writer of numerous books, together with looking for own Welfare: A View of historical chinese language faith, additionally released by means of SUNY Press.

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Additional info for Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China (SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)

Sample text

Looking for Foreigners Our discussion has shown that geographic and linguistic factors each made its own contribution to the formation of cultural identity in the three ancient civilizations. What meaningful observation can be drawn from this concerning attitudes toward foreigners? In Mesopotamia, relatively open frontiers of the alluvium made the area susceptible to foreign invasions. When hostile attitudes toward foreigners were formed as a result of the invasion, what was stressed as the difference between “we-civilized” and “they-barbarian” was not language In Search of Cultural Identity 35 but lifestyle.

This could be seen as an indication of the final phase of the fusion of Akkadian and Sumerian culture. ³¹ If conflicts arose, they were more likely the results of the struggle for political and economic interests. However, such lack of ethnolinguistic prejudice does not necessarily imply that the Mesopotamians were free of any form of prejudice. The Egyptian situation is quite different as far as language is concerned. ³³ The use of Egyptian language and script was therefore essential to Egypt's cultural identity.

This approach takes a certain cultural phenomenon in a particular historical tradition as its central concern. The understanding of this cultural phenomenon is based not only on the “native” material, but also on information gleaned from the manifestation of that particular cultural phenomenon in other societies or historical traditions. In this case, the researcher pursues one particular history or culture as his/her main object, but he/she utilizes more general or theoretical knowledge derived from a certain degree of familiarity with Introduction 5 the manifestation of that particular phenomenon in other cultures or societies.

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