Under the Ancestors' Shadow: Chinese Culture and Personality

Under the Ancestors' Shadow: Chinese Culture and Personality

Under the Ancestors' Shadow: Chinese Culture and Personality

Under the Ancestors' Shadow: Chinese Culture and Personality

Excerpt

In this book I have attempted to do three things. In the first place, I have given a description of a small semi-rural community in southwest China, and have analyzed its culture with particular reference to its patterns of family and religious life. I have explored the role played by this culture in the personality formation of the individuals who make up the community. Finally, after describing the several personality configurations that are found here, I have indicated their applicability to Chinese society as a whole, both past and present.

Pending further studies of the unity of Chinese culture, which I am convinced that work in the future will reveal, I can only record my conviction that the essential social structure of the community I have studied is typical of China as a whole. This is not entirely hypothetical, however, since there is evidence, with which I will not burden the reader, to indicate that this unity is at least as valid a supposition as is the conception that Chinese culture is marked by diversity.

The field materials which form the basis of this book were collected between July, 1941, and June, 1942, and again between July and September, 1943, while I was serving on the faculty of the National Yunnan University, Kunming. Field work in those days was exceedingly difficult. The inflation necessitated a constant stretching of means to meet constantly increasing expenses. When I arrived at West Town, prices were roughly fifteen times their 1937 level. At the end of my second trip they were more than two hundred times as high. Again . . .

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