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Open Access Publications from the University of California

De-Centering the Middle Kingdom: the Argument for Indian Centrality within Chinese Discourses from the 3rd to the 7th Century


David Jonathan Felt examines the construction of boundaries through a cultural discourse between India and China, mitigated by central Asia, about the conception of spatial constructions of the world. When ideas about the world reached China from India, the Chinese were forced to accommodate the new incoming ideas into their preexisting narratives about the world’s construction. In Borderlands Theory, it is important to remember the idea of permutation, or “fuzzy sets,” in which the reactions to an event or idea will be varied, and fall along a spectrum rather than into distinct and easy categories. Felt makes it clear that the drive to “re-center” the world was but one of many reactions to the new incoming knowledge, and presents an intricate view of Chinese constructions of space and borders.

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