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A HARMONY ACCOUNT OF CHINESE IDENTITY
This paper argues that the Chinese concept of harmony is exemplified in the historical process that resulted in the Chinese people and the geographic entity of China itself. The concept of harmony overcomes the dualism between identity and heterogeneity and is best understood through the paradigm of the organic. This paper will first outline the three conventional, dualistic, (mis)understandings of the nature of the Chinese people and China in the mainstream Western academe: (1) in racial terms, that is, as possessing the “essence” of Chinese-ness, (2) the Chinese people were created through “sinicization” – understood as replacing one culture with another, (3) neither China nor the Chinese people ever existed; what existed was merely heterogeneous particulars without an overall coherence. In place of these dualistic explanations, it will be argued that the concept of the harmony – understood as an organic coherence among particulars – is the most accurate way to understand the Chinese people and China as an entity. An organism maintains coherence among the parts despite constant changes to the particulars whichconstitute its body. This organic harmony is exemplified in the historical process that produced the Chinese people and China.
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