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Bergeton, "The evolving vocabulary of otherness in pre-imperial China: From 'belligerent others' to 'cultural others'," 2006

USC dissertation in History.
August 21, 2009

Uffe Bergeton, M.A

Abstract (Summary)

In this paper I describe how changes in the concepts underlying the Zhou-barbarian dichotomy in pre-imperial China are reflected in the form and distribution of the linguistic expressions used to refer to foreigners. The main narrative that informed the conceptualization of foreigners changed from warfare in pre-Zhanguo times, to culture with the emergence of Confucianism in the late 5 th to early 4 th century BCE. In the earlier period foreigners were referred to using expressions denoting specific peoples or with the character rong 'belligerent others.' In the Zhanguo period the emphasis was on cultural differences and a number of general words for anti-Zhou 'barbarians' developed ( siyi , yidi , manyi , etc.). Within these new paradigms of compound ethnonyms, the morpheme yi had the greatest combinatorial potential and was occasionally used alone to express the concept of 'cultural others.'

Advisor: Birge, Bettine