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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

Long Divided Must Unite, Long United Must Divide: Dynasty, Histories, and the Orders of Time in China

Long Divided Must Unite, Long United Must Divide: Dynasty, Histories, and the Orders of Time in China

Chapter:
(p.147) 5 Long Divided Must Unite, Long United Must Divide: Dynasty, Histories, and the Orders of Time in China
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0006

This essay revisits the opening statement of the famous Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms as the quintessential expression of the idea of dynastic rise and fall in Chinese history. Discussing the concept of “dynasty” as the locus where space/time and power converge, it highlights the spatiotemporal dimensions of the Romance’s opening and its intimate connection to ways of thinking about history, time, and political authority in imperial China. Presenting the statement as a critical moment in a long process of contending Chinese ideas about history and dynastic longevity, the essay shows how the concept of “rise and fall” was born as a subversive historical device, a “regime of historicity,” against the backdrop of political discourses about dynastic sempiternity and dynastic rise in late antiquity during the days of the Qin and Han dynasties. This device resurfaced later in critical moments in Chinese history, and this essay suggests that “Long divided must unite, long united must divide” was created, during the 1660s, against the backdrop of the rising Manchu-Qing dynasty and contemporary Manchu boasting concerning dynastic rise. The essay ends with the fall of the concept of “rise and fall” as a historical device in the early 20th century.

Keywords:   dynasty, history of China, Three Kingdoms, regime of historicity, historical cycle, sempiternity, historiography

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