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Some Additions to the Summer Bookshelf

The latest issue of The China Journal[1] is out and features a host of reviews of new books that should be of interest to those concerned with developments in China. Here is a sampling of some of the latest scholarship touching on current issues affecting Chinese society and culture.

Xinjiang and the Modern Chinese State, by Justin M. Jacobs. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016. ix+297 pp. US$30.00 (paper), US$50.00 (cloth).

As Michael Dillon notes in his review, political leadership in Xinjiang has shown remarkable continuity from the Qing dynasty up through the present. Jacobs’s history provides important background on the eventual formation of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1955 and the policies by which the CPC has governed the region since.



Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800–Present, edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, and Christian Meyer. Leiden: Brill, 2014. xviii+424 pp. €150.00/US$194.00 (cloth).


Based on proceedings of a conference held at Hong Kong Baptist University ten years ago, the chapters in this volume brings together the study of religion and globalization in an effort to understand transformations in China’s religious landscape. Reviewer Nanlai Cao (author of Constructing China’s Jerusalem: Christians, Power, and Place in Contemporary Wenzhou) notes:

Given the historical linkage between Christianity and Western social institutions, there is much congruence between categorizations rooted in Western modernity and the self-understanding of societies and organizations dominated by Christian culture. As China began to be integrated into the modern world system, globally generalized concepts such as religion were being applied, challenged, and modified in the Chinese context, where there was an incommensurability between taxonomies associated with Christianity and the reality constructed through traditional Chinese religious and cultural lenses.

“Changing Fate”: Education, Poverty and Family Support in Contemporary Chinese Society, by Helena Obendiek. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2016. vii+238 pp. €34.90/US$49.95 (paper).

As the title suggests, this ethnography of rural Gansu families probe their assumption that education holds the key to a better future and the way this assumption shapes every aspect of family life. Reviewer Stig Thogersen of Aarhus University notes that rural-urban inequities follow students even after leaving the countryside, and the only ones who are ultimately viewed as successful are those who find jobs in major cities following graduation from university.



China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building along the New Silk Road, by Tom Miller. London: Zed Books, 2017. ix+292 pp. US$24.95 (paper).

Journalist Tom Miller explores the expansion of Chinese economic and political influence in Asia through the Belt and Road Initiative and bold actions in the South China Sea. Georgia Institute of Technology professor Fei-ling Wang’s allusion to the Great Leap Forward in the first paragraph of his review suggests his own doubts about China’s prospects for success in pursuing what he sees as “a grand political device by an insecure regime rather than an expression of the genuine wishes of the Chinese people.” Wang also questions Miller’s assertion that China needs to expand overseas for economic reasons, suggesting that draining its currency reserves in order to do so for political reasons puts the entire Chinese economy at great risk.

You may want to add one of these your summer reading list. If you do decide to pick up a copy and find the book helpful, please consider writing a review of your own to share with the readers of ChinaSource.


  1. ^ Access to the full reviews is available to subscribers only. Brief excerpts can be viewed on the site.
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Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton

Brent Fulton is the founder of ChinaSource. Dr. Fulton served as the first president of ChinaSource until 2019. Prior to his service with ChinaSource, he served from 1995 to 2000 as the managing director of the Institute for Chinese Studies at Wheaton College. From 1987 to 1995 he served as founding …View Full Bio

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