On the occasion of the founding of the Journal of China in Comparative Perspective (JCCP), I would like to introduce the journal’s characteristics, main theme and related points drawn from the contributions. The Preface by Professor Stephan Feuchtwang was written for The Globalization of Chinese Social Sciences: Commemorating the Centenary of the Birth of Fei Xiaotong (three volumes), which is due to be published in English and Chinese in 2015. We included the Preface here for two reasons: the contents are relevant to some articles in this issue of JCCP that will form part of the book; and, methodologically, it is relevant to the theme of the launch issue, namely, the creation and development of the vocabularies of the Chinese social sciences. Both the book and journal are published by Global China Press.
In my Editorial, I will explain the challenges in founding JCCP, together with its unique contribution. JCCP has experienced a long gestation – seven years from the announcement of the journal’s founding in 2008 until its formal launch – for a number of reasons.
First, it fosters the innovative concept of looking at China in comparative perspective. The main purpose of the journal is to ‘publish original multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary comparative research on China on a wide range of topics within the social and human sciences. It encourages debate, cooperation, or co-authorship on the same issue or theme from the point of view of different disciplines (including politics, economics, international relations, history, sociology, anthropology, cultural psychology, and methodology, among others)’. Its aim is ‘to bring out the best in scholarship, transcending traditional academic boundaries in an innovative manner’ (see JCCP’s ‘Statement of Aims’). Initially, the project won the full support of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)’s Academic Publication Office and wide acclaim from the international academic community. As a result of the global financial crisis of 2008, however, there were inevitable funding problems. While continuing to seek funding, since 2011 JCCP editors have published Bijiao: China in Comparative Perspective (ISSN: 2045-0680) and the China in Comparative Perspective Working Paper Series (ISSN 2043-0434). Moreover, we have been trying hard to bring JCCP back to life, believing that it will be a unique academic resource on the Chinese social sciences. In this respect, our work is still far ahead of the field.
Second, by regarding China as part of global society, the concept of China in comparative perspective emphasizes multifaceted study in a global context. JCCP will not simply be about China – there are already a large number of excellent China journals. It will be about looking at China from a comparative viewpoint as a player in the broader patterns of development, ideas, movements, networks and systems. Comparison includes taking China as a case study in support of a generally applicable theory or analyzing and drawing conclusions from comparative data about China and some other country or context. The comparison may be regional or global, historical or contemporary, and it may involve a comparison of perceptions: China’s perceptions of others and others’ perceptions of China in the context of China’s encounter with the outside world in the political, economic, military and cultural sense (see JCCP’s ‘Statement of Aims’). It is different from other China-related studies, such as sinology on the ancient classics, or Chinese humanities and social sciences or China area studies. An example of our comparative approach can be seen in our comment on the common Chinese global vision of tianxia (天下). We have three very different contributions, all of which relate to the word tian and so broaden this vision. Shuo Yu’s article, for example, explores one of the key issues (how to translate the Chinese character tian (天) into other languages) that led to the epoch-making ‘Chinese Rites Controversy’ 300 years ago. It is in fact a debate about universal values in cosmological belief systems. The title of a book reviewed by Ekaterina Zavidovskaya is Celestial Healing, and can be translated into Chinese as ‘天行疗法’, which again has tian in it. Allen Chun reviews a book entitled The Globalization of Chinese Food. Since ancient times, Chinese people have regarded food as an issue as important as tian, for, as a Chinese saying puts it, min yi shi wei tian (literally, ‘food is god for the people’ or ‘people regard sufficient food as their heaven’). So, what are the real meanings of tian? The authors tackle this question from a social-scientific and comparative perspective, which helps elucidate it. The material in the translation section of the Chinese for Social Sciences series, edited by Dongning Feng, will be published from 2016, was drawn from the book review on Chinese food, and is intended to expand readers’ understanding of tian through practices of everyday life.
The online publications of China in Comparative Perspective Book Review, the Working Paper Series and the MA Dissertations exhibit their own unique features. JCCP deliberately places the study of China in the context of global studies. There are two main reasons for this strategic priority. Globalization continues to be a major concern. As a result of globalization, the desire for and possibility of educational exchanges and intellectual curiosity about other cultures have increased. Furthermore, information technology has enabled a greater production of quantitative data for comparison, and international communications technology has facilitated the dissemination of this information.
Third, in striving for academic excellence, JCCP combines peer-reviewed with commissioned material from important authors of our choice, and integrates independent and cooperative academic activities. For example, in 2010, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Professor Fei Xiaotong, the China in Comparative Perspective Network (CCPN) held various commemorative activities over four days. Academic papers related to this will be published in the above mentioned The Globalization of Chinese Social Sciences. CCPN decided to fund JCCP in 2015, as it is not only the 105th anniversary of the birth but also the 10th anniversary of the death of Fei Xiaotong, as well as the 80th anniversary of Fei's Fieldwork in the Yao Mountains, significant dates for Chinese academics, as well as in recognition of the globalization of Chinese social sciences.
The pattern of combining a regular call for papers with articles generated by conferences continues. In 2011, CCPN, working in cooperation with the University of Nottingham, held a panel on ‘China in Comparative Perspective’ as part of the Fourth International Forum on Contemporary Chinese Studies (IFCCS4), collecting some high-quality papers. In 2012, the Fifth International Conference on Contemporary Chinese Studies (IFCCS5), held in Beijing, focused on the theme of ‘society building’. This was suggested by Fei Xiaotong’s successor, the former President of the Chinese Sociological Association, Professor Lu Xueyi (1933-2013), who passed away in 2013. To promote this theme, CCPN has collected papers on both Chinese studies and Chinese comparative studies, the English version of Society Building published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing and the Chinese version published by Global China Press in 2014. Its new edition, add a few items in memory of Professor Zheng Hangsheng (1936-2014), in both Chinese and English versions published jointly by Global China Press and New World Press in 2015. CPPN became independent from the LSE in 2013, and was registered as a charity named CCPN Global – China in Comparative Perspective Network Global, a UK-based global academic society. CCPN Global hosted an international conference on Weber and China at SOAS on 5–6 September 2013. It was organized by the Centre of Chinese Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, the Weber Study Group, the British Sociological Association (BSA) and the journal Max Weber Studies. The papers from the conference, selected again through a combination of peer review and careful choice by the Conference Programme Committee, will be published in JCCP in 2016.
Fourth, JCCP has encouraged interdisciplinary research, integrating social science disciplines, translation and Chinese language teaching. Having established CCPN, the only bilingual website in the English-speaking world that focuses on the social scientific study of China, we further developed JCCP by adding basic information with dual languages and editing a separate Chinese Edition (though not exactly identical to JCCP). In mainland China and Taiwan there are some Chinese social-scientific publications, including a few with English papers, they do not publish each author’s paper in both Chinese and English. Although JCCP is committed to the bilingual publication of papers where at all possible, this does not mean an English–Chinese or Chinese–English literal translation. We encourage the authors to provide two versions of their papers, in the hope that they can use ways of expressing ideas that will deepen the topic under discussion and exchange views with people of different cultural backgrounds. We also select papers to be translated into Chinese and published in the Chinese Edition. You may agree with me, after reading Harro von Senger’s article in this issue, that his understanding of one of the most difficult Chinese characters, ‘moulüe’ (谋略), is remarkably accurate. This illustrates that the globalization of Chinese social sciences and Chinese knowledge is possible. The journal, with its bilingual feature, will not only help those researchers and readers who seek a better understanding of the same issue using different languages, but it will also be particularly helpful for those readers fluent in only one of the languages. For instance, Steven Harrell points out in this issue that, if an anthropologist from a non-metropolitan country could not read Chinese, it would be hard to see 90 percent of the model that he or she was seeking from Fei Xiaotong’s work.
Producing a bilingual journal is very challenging. Instead, we provide a separate Chinese Edition. If we were to rely only on other translators or social scientists's efforts, it would take an inordinate length of time. For example, Fei Xiaotong’s Peasant Life in China (《江村经济》), published in English in the 1930s, did not have a Chinese version until the 1980s; Fei’s Chinese work Xiangtu Zhongguo (《乡土中国》) was published in 1947; its English translation, entitled From the Soil, was published in 1992, but it has not yet entered the canon for mainstream Western academia.
In order to promote the globalization of Chinese social sciences and the popularization of knowledge and social science from the perspective of Chinese and non-Chinese, CCPN Global has initiated a long-term programme called Chinese Language for Social Sciences. Similarly, to accommodate its research results will be published in Chinese for Social Sciences series, edited by Dr Dongning Feng, in addition to JCCP’s Chinese Edition. It has two parts: the first focuses on reading, at both intermediate and advanced level; the second is bi-directional translation between Chinese and English. Its materials are mainly derived from the contents of JCCP and other bilingual resources of CCPN Global. These are being launched in cooperation with specialists at the Centre for Translation Studies, the Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia and the London Confucius Institute, SOAS, University of London. The programmes aim to provide a platform for cooperation between social scientists, translators and linguists. It is hoped that this will help Chinese social scientists and scholars to bring their research, thought and discourse to global discussion and debate on common issues.
Fifth, JCCP discourse travels in both space and time, much like the British science fiction TV serial Doctor Who. For example, the articles on Fei Xiaotong include both those written specifically for the event and those that were written in the 1990s but have not yet been published in the West, and which are still of high relevance in today’s world. These articles have wide-ranging significance, for the development of social science in a non-metropolitan society and for the construction of the knowledge system of the global society. Equally, in the past decade, CPPN at the LSE has produced and accumulated rich academic products, only now coming to fruition. However, the ripe fruit will go rotten if not picked in time: hence our decision to bring all these works into the public domain now. We thank all the editors, members of Editorial Board, International Consultation Board, Academic Advisory Committee, translators, proofreaders and administrative staff who work for JCCP voluntarily, and whose contribution enables us to preserve our spiritual wealth in the absence of generous funds. It is hoped that JCCP can be listed as a SSCI journal, thanks to its unique character, academic quality and regularity, and gain larger numbers of both individual and institutional subscribers in order to sustain its growth.
From 2015, we will publish all JCCP issues that have been previously edited which increased numbers of pages, but we will continue with future regular issues as a service to the academic community. Spatially, although CCPN has cut the umbilical cord that connected it to the LSE, and both the Book Review and the Working Paper Series have been discontinued, their archived contents continue to exist on CCPN Global’s website and will be published in print as part of JCCP. Those who have contributed directly to JCCP in past years will always be remembered. They include Stephan Feuchtwang, Victor Teo, Gonçalo Santos, Sergey Radchenko, Geoffrey Gowlland, Deng Gang and Keith Jackson. Our gratitude also goes to all members of the Editorial Board, the International Consultation Board of JCCP and the Academic Advisory Committee of CCPN, as well as to many colleagues and friends who have helped.
Xiangqun Chang, Director of Global China Institute and CCPN Global; Honorary Professor of University College London, UK. See: www.gci-uk.org/x.chang
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