Boundary making, a crucial element in human cultural creativity, links these essays exploring Chinese art and society. Traversing time and cultural category, individual expression and social construct, the authors demonstrate how a 'boundary' may exist simultaneously as barrier, threshold and interface.
The essays range from the creation of the first political and bureaucratic boundaries in early China, to the dismantling of discursive boundaries in the post-Mao era. Spanning diverse subjects, moving between ancient funerary art and the tension between self and image in modern Peking Opera, they deftly explore the psychodynamics of Chinese society.
All the authors in this book are established Sinologists. Boundaries in China will be stimulating reading for anyone interested to see how the seemingly tangential or peripheral can turn out to be of central concern in non-Western (and perhaps also Western) art and culture.
'In these essays the reader will encounter some of the most sophisticated contemporary scholarship on Chinese art - unafraid to grapple with big issues ... Taken together, the essays have an ambitious reach. They don't in any sense form "a coherent whole", since most of the authors are explicitly suspicious of such attempts to wrap everything up neatly ... the material in the book, and the force with which its arguments are put, are hard to ignore. They demand serious engagement from all who are interested in going beyond the simple labeling of cultural phenomena, to understanding how those labels are generated, and who has the power to make them stick.' - Orientations