The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China

The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China

The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China

The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China

Excerpt

Ch'ing administration is becoming a major field of inquiry within the Western study of Chinese civilization. As academic fields go, it is relatively well financed. Recently, it has produced several substantial social and institutional studies. It has its own journal, which is helping to attract new students to its cause, and in the process of development, it has moved well beyond the interests which initiated it to American higher education.

This situation, and the presentation of this study, tempts one to ask, why study the Ch'ing era and Ch'ing administration? What do Westerners stand to get out of this subject? What can they hope to contribute to it? More specifically, what considerations led to the making of this particular study? What are its intentions, and what can be expected of it?

Why study Ch'ing administration? Clearly, Westerners study Ch'ing administration for some of the same reasons that they study the Chinese body politic and civilization as a whole, and these reasons should require little explanation. The Ch'ing period itself has the particular character of being recent in time, yet still carrying much of the inherited civilization with it. It offers valuable opportunities for comparing old and new, and contrasting continuity and change. Its proximity to the modern East-West confrontation forces Westerners to ask what it was that they challenged, and face up to the antagonistic course which its successors have taken.

The Ch'ing period is also remarkably well documented and largely untouched by Western historians. Recent study of this documentation is . . .

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