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Enemies of Civilization

"Enemies of Civilization is a work of comparative history and cultural consciousness that discusses how "others" were perceived in there ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Each civilization was the dominant culture in its part of the world, and each developed a mind-set that regarded itself as culturally superior to its neighbors. Mu-chou Poo compares these societies' attitudes toward other cultures and finds differences and similarities that reveal the self-perceptions of each society. Notably, this work shows that in contrast to modern racism bases on biophysical features, such prejudice did not exist in these ancient societies. It was culture rather than biophysical nature that was the most important criterion for distinguishing "us from "them. By examining how societies conceive their prejudices, this book breaks new ground in the study of ancient history and opens new ways to look at human society, both ancient and modern.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations Preface List of Abbreviations Chronological Table 1. Introduction The Question about The Others Ethnic Theories and Ancient History Choice of Subjects About the Comparative Study of History Structure, Scope, and Sources 2. In Search of Cultural Identity Geography Language Looking for Foreigners 3. Representations Designations of Self and Others Textual and Graphic Evidence 4. Relations and Attitudes Enemies Demons Friends and Allies From Apprehension to Appreciation 5. Foreigners Within Social Positions Foreign Goods and Languages 6. The Transformation of the Barbarians To Assimilate or Not to Assimilate Between Ideology and Reality 7. Conclusion The Illusive Others Official Ideology and Private Sentiments The Comparative Gaze The Problem of Great Civilizations Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Mu-chou Poo is Professor and Research Fellow in the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He is the author of several books, including In Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion, also published by SUNY Press.

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