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Reevaluation of Anthropological Theories in the Realm of Chinese Studies: 12 Topics

Research period:2019.10-2023.3

KAWAI Hironao


Chinese Studies , Anthropological Theory , History of Studies 


Anthropological research on Chinese society got into full swing in the early 20th century, and a wide range of studies have been conducted by Japanese, Western, and Chinese researchers. In the beginning, Chinese society held promise as a place to conduct research on a plural society that differed from “primitive” societies, and in the 1960s ethnographies were written about it as a comparison with African studies. But after that Chinese studies moved forward in an independent direction. This made dialogue with other fields of anthropology difficult, even within East Asian studies, and it became largely isolated in anthropology. However, looking back on anthropological research on China, it was among the first in contemporary anthropology to discuss topics such as the relationship between state and society, political economy, individualism vs. holism, and ontology. The objective of this project is to outline the history of theories in Chinese studies across 12 topics in which a vast amount of research has been accumulated in the field (family, gender, community, ethnicity, religion, fengshui, ecology, food, art, tourism, media, andurbanism) in order to enable dialogue with anthropological theories.