Tokens of Exchange

The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations

Tokens of Exchange

Post-Contemporary Interventions

More about this series

Book Pages: 464 Illustrations: 22 b&w photographs Published: January 2000

Editor: Lydia H. Liu

Asian Studies, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

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


“The editor is to be congratulated in bringing together some of the brightest young minds in Chinese Studies and galvanizing them to write collectively a highly stimulating book.” — Sino-Platonic Papers

"[T]his volume is a strong contribution that prompts us to rethink translation, an act that many of us take for granted too easily. As such, it deserves to be read by not only students of modern East Asia, but also scholars interested in imperialism, global circuits, and the question of modernity."

— Eugenia Lean , Bulletin of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy

"This collection of provocative, engaging and insightful essays re(de)constructs our notions of cultural interaction, and adopts a more complex model than the tired stimulus-response paradigm of the John King Fairbank school of intercultural history as well as the oversimplistic notion of influence in comparative literature. . . . [E]ssential reading for any student and scholar of East-West relations."

— Eugene Eoyane , New Comparison

“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

“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


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Price: $31.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
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
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2424-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2401-0
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