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  • Introduction/ Lydia H. Liu 1

    The Question of Meaning-Value in the Political Economy of the Sign 13

    Part I. Early Encounters: The Question of (In)commensurability 45

    Part II. Colonial Circulations: From International Law to the Global Market 127

    Part III. Science, Medicine, and Cultural Pathologies 239

    Part IV. Language and the Production of Universal Knowledge 331

    Glossary 399

    Bibliography 411

    Index 445

    Contributors 457
  • “This impressive volume expands the metaphor of translation to encompass a broad spread of transcultural negotiations, thereby opening new possibilities for approaching the language and practices of East Asian modernities. The volume presents exemplary models for demonstrating the historicity of how concepts travel and become caught up within localized sign systems.”—Ann Anagnost, author of National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China — N/A

    “This volume brilliantly translates ‘translation’ by theorizing it and demonstrating the contingency, historicity and political inflections of the practices that have constituted it. Specific attention to a series of examples from China and the diverse encounters with European knowledges show that the Universal is always particular.”—Paul Rabinow, University of California, Berkeley — N/A

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  • Description

    The problem of translation has become increasingly central to critical reflections on modernity and its universalizing processes. Approaching translation as a symbolic and material exchange among peoples and civilizations—and not as a purely linguistic or literary matter, the essays in Tokens of Exchange focus on China and its interactions with the West to historicize an economy of translation. Rejecting the familiar regional approach to non-Western societies, contributors contend that “national histories” and “world history” must be read with absolute attention to the types of epistemological translatability that have been constructed among the various languages and cultures in modern times.
    By studying the production and circulation of meaning as value in areas including history, religion, language, law, visual art, music, and pedagogy, essays consider exchanges between Jesuit and Protestant missionaries and the Chinese between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries and focus on the interchanges occasioned by the spread of capitalism and imperialism. Concentrating on ideological reciprocity and nonreciprocity in science, medicine, and cultural pathologies, contributors also posit that such exchanges often lead to racialized and essentialized ideas about culture, sexuality, and nation. The collection turns to the role of language itself as a site of the universalization of knowledge in its contemplation of such processes as the invention of Basic English and the global teaching of the English language. By focusing on the moments wherein meaning-value is exchanged in the translation from one language to another, the essays highlight the circulation of the global in the local as they address the role played by historical translation in the universalizing processes of modernity and globalization.
    The collection will engage students and scholars of global cultural processes, Chinese studies, world history, literary studies, history of science, and anthropology, as well as cultural and postcolonial studies.

    Contributors. Jianhua Chen, Nancy Chen, Alexis Dudden Eastwood, Roger Hart, Larissa Heinrich, James Hevia, Andrew F. Jones, Wan Shun Eva Lam, Lydia H. Liu, Deborah T. L. Sang, Haun Saussy, Q. S. Tong, Qiong Zhang

    About The Author(s)

    Lydia H. Liu is Helmut F. Stern Professor of Chinese Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity—China, 1900–1937.

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