In this major new study, Nicolas Tackett proposes that the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) witnessed both the maturation of an East Asian inter-state system and the emergence of a new worldview and sense of Chinese identity among educated elites. These developments together had sweeping repercussions for the course of Chinese history, while also demonstrating that there has existed in world history a viable alternative to the modern system of nation-states. Utilising a wide array of historical, literary, and archaeological sources, chapters focus on diplomatic sociability, cosmopolitan travel, military strategy, border demarcation, ethnic consciousness, and the cultural geography of Northeast Asia. In this ground breaking new approach to the history of the East Asian inter-state system, Tackett argues for a concrete example of a pre-modern nationalism, explores the development of this nationalism, and treats modern nationalism as just one iteration of a phenomenon with a much longer history.
Nicolas Tackett earned his B.S. from Stanford University (1998) and his Ph.D. from Columbia University (2006). He has been at the University of California, Berkeley since 2009, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on a variety of topics, including 'Imperial China and the World', 'Precursors of Modern Nationalism', 'Frontier History', and 'History of Nationalism in Asia'. Tackett's first book, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (2014), received the American Historical Association's John Henry Breasted Prize in 2015. He was also the recipient of post-doctoral fellowships at Stanford University and the Getty Research Institute, and of an ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship. He has given talks on four continents and in three languages on topics related to Tang-Song China.
Introduction; Part I. Political Space: 1. Diplomacy and cosmopolitan society; 2. Military defense of the Northern Frontier; 3. Bilateral boundaries; Part II. Cultural Spaces: 4. The Chinese nation; 5. Mortuary cultures across the Chinese-Steppe divide; 6. Sinic space and Han Chinese; Conclusion.