SI Jia received her Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and now is professor of history at Fudan University. Her research focuses on modern Chinese history and the history of Sino-Western cultural exchanges, and extends to the history of publishing, culture and reading. She is the author of Circulation of English in China: Speakers, Historical Texts, and a New Linguistic Landscape (2009) and Chinese-English Contact and Cultural Exchanges in Modern China (2016). She has published over 30 papers in influential journals, and is now working on a national-level research project on the Chinese works and manuscripts of early China protestant missionaries. She has been a visiting scholar of École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, France and Academia Sinica, Taiwan. She was Haney Foundation Fellow in 2001-2002.
「 Reflections on Chinese Civilization: Arnold J. Toynbee’s 1929 Journey to China 」
Arnold J. Toynbee’s (1889-1975) record of his 1929 journey to China might well be considered the most important expedition undertaken by the celebrated historian. In the work published as a result of the trip, A Journey to China (1931), Toynbee observes the complex cultural interaction taking place in Europe in the wake of the First World War. Though he only ever had one opportunity to visit mainland China during his lifetime, Toynbee’s seven-month stay in the Far East allowed him to ruminate on the globe’s variety of civilisations and theoretical approaches to universal history; thus laying the foundation for his most famous work, the 12-volume A Study of History (1934-1961).
By translating Toynbee’s A Journey to China into Chinese for the first time, a number of points have become particularly apparent through a close reading of the book: 1) Toynbee’s views on the situation of the British treaty-ports in China (and their prospects). For example, Shanghai, the city that presents him with an opportunity to reveal to the reader his understanding of the collision of civilisations during the colonial era. 2) The “Manchurian Question”. As a an expert on contemporary international affairs, Toynbee discusses the future of “Manchuria” against the backdrop of potential competition between Russia and Japan, as well as their respective interests in the region of Northeast China. 3) The question of modernity in China and her position in Toynbee’s conception of total history. In addition, Toynbee reflected on Chinese civilization by an effort at cultural comparison with Turkey and Japan. With the salient points above as a main focus, the paper will explore how Toynbee’s journey to China impacted his own thought and writing, as well as 20th-century European perceptions and understandings of Chinese civilization more broadly.