More About This Website

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While teaching at Sophia University during the 1980s and early 1990s, Neil Burton (for bio, click here) developed two courses on China's external relations, principally for the Qing dynasty and People's Republic of China (PRC) periods. Many of the materials included on this website were used in the teaching of those courses.

The self-generated textual tools and aids were the result of years of direct research by Burton. But it is apropos here to point out that the English word “research”—from the French recherche—simply means to search again, even though today its usage often implies grander things. To quote Isaac Newton, that great polymath of the 17th century, writing in a letter to another great scientist, Robert Hooke, in 1676: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” We, it should be pointed out, are not claiming to have seen further, but only maybe to have seen a few things from new angles, principally from a Chinese perspective. We firmly believe that the accumulation of knowledge has never been anything other than the result of collective research by many minds over time, punctuated by new—and in some cases idiosyncratic—individual perspectives and insights.

While working on this website, Burton, the site’s “content man”, has been educated by Brian Smallshaw, the site’s “technical [and aesthetics] whiz” (for bio, click here) , about the revolutionary differences between the Paper and Internet/Web eras. Anybody whose adult life has straddled something of both eras may have sensed that they were viewing and somehow being swept along, willingly or not, by radical changes in “the way things are done.” Some, like Smallshaw, may have understood the significance of it for the mind (Burton didn’t until Smallshaw enlightened him): Ideas and words on paper, so long as the paper lasts, are fixed in order by their authors; most of us read words, sentences, paragraphs, and the pages they appear on, in sequence, i.e., in an order meaningful to, and imposed by, their authors. Sequence involves prioritization; prioritization implies values and hierarchy. Years of writing and reading words on paper work their effects on the mind—such as Burton’s mind.

The Internet changes these things radically, and at a pace that is breathtaking when looked at from an historical perspective. It seems to represent a great leap in “freeing” individuals from sequences and hierarchies imposed by old authorities. Yet that freedom, Burton will still argue, doesn’t necessarily lead, through what sometimes appears to him to be random data or "factoid" acquisition, to what he has long thought of as (hierarchically ordered) knowledge.

The syllabi for the two courses adapted here for the new Internet era all started on paper, and those are included, unedited, just as students received them in 1996 and 1997. If you wish to confirm for yourself the philosophical ideas in the paragraph above, have a look at the syllabi before entering the site at any sub-topic of your choice. You can even try the final exam!

All supportive materials for the two courses: extra readings, chronologies, bibliographies, etc., were also handed out on paper, their words or entries fixed in position, first by Burton and then by the medium itself. Graphics were somewhat different, as they were generally presented in the classroom as 35mm slides or overhead projections. But the sequence was still predetermined by the teacher.

At the time, textual and graphics were taken from existing sources, their sources (the “giants”) acknowledged, but they were also sometimes modified to accord with more contemporary romanization schemes, or to correct the odd mistaken date or historical detail.

Which brings us to another issue of historical change: In the 1970s and '80s, when Burton was developing and offering the two courses, "intellectual property" issues were not of much concern in educational establishments, at least in the countries in which he was teaching. Today we all live in a very different environment in which "owning" intellectual property is high on the list of priorities of almost all educational and academic activity. Both Burton and Smallshaw believe that this stifles the pursuit of knowledge. Universities have always, of course, been gathering places for specialists, but today the focus on ownership and control makes it all but impossible for those not attached to large research universities, and with well-funded projects, to conduct their own inquiries on topics not deemed sufficiently "useful" (by whom?) to be funded. The Internet today makes research by any interested party at least a possibility.

Beyond the philosophical position stated above, there is no intent on the part of the compilers of this website to control or turn a profit on any of the content. The materials presented here are offered free of charge in hopes of advancing knowledge concerning the particular topics explored. We fully acknowledge the contributions of those “giants” on whose shoulders we stand; we simply don't believe that the pursuit of monetary gain or control should result in curbing access to knowledge by any interested audience or individual.

Wherever possible we explicitly acknowledge the sources of materials used.

Images that appear are screened especially carefully. Those that are known to be copyrighted or source-stamped, appear here as thumbnails only, accompanied, whenever possible, by links to their owners’ homepages. Those known to be non-copyrighted appear first as thumbnails, but are zoomable to the viewing and printing size of your choice.

If any individual, agency or institution finds the use of their materials objectionable, they only need contact us to seek a solution.


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虽然这个网站来源于在日本用英语教学的两门课程的教材,中国的研究人员应该对此同样感兴趣。这两门课程的所有材料用有“汉字”, 因为班上大部分是日本学生。

本网站的许多材料来源于Neil Burton教授(简历)于上世纪八十年代和九十年代初在日本上智大学所教授的两门关于中国对外关系史课程(清朝和中华人民共和国时期为主)所形成的讲义和教案。这些讲义和教案是Burton教授多年来研究所得。谈到“研究”,虽然英文中的research一词(源于法语recherche)往往给人以宏大意向,但究其本源,仅仅是“再一次探究”的意思。17世纪的博学家艾萨克·牛顿在1676年的一封信中对另一位伟大的科学家罗伯特·胡克所言:“如果我比别人看得更远,那是因为我站在巨人的肩上”。我们建构本网站,并非如牛顿所言,希望看得比别人更远,而仅仅希望从更多不同的角度,尤其从中国的角度,来审视中国的对外关系史。我们坚信,知识,必须由一位位不同学者,从一个个特异角度,经一次次不断探究,而结晶。
对于本网站而言,如果说Burton教授是其“实质与内容”,那么Brian Smallshaw先生(简历)就是其“外观与形式”。是Smallshaw先生引领Burton教授领略了信息革命和互联网的魅力:就像所有未曾体会信息革命的人们,Burton教授为互联网所能带来的处事方式的变化而惊叹;就像所有体会信息革命的人们,Smallshaw先生充分理解互联网对思维方式的改变和解放。在书本时代,思想和语言都被作者有序地排列在有页码的纸上。读者们在阅读时,往往会不由自主地受到作者对信息编排时所产生主观价值偏好的影响。正如Burton教授,长期的书本阅读在一定程度上会将人们的思维禁锢。是互联网时代的来临,将这一切改变(尤其是我们的历史观),将这禁锢和那偏好一起打破,将读者们从作者们所强加的等级和次序中解放出来。然而,Burton教授依然认为:如此的自由并不必然引领人们走向他一直以来所认为的知识的结晶。这大约是本网站的成因之一吧。

Burton教授的两门课程的大纲提要已经原封不动地上传至本网站。如果你想验证以上提及的理论设想,不妨先看一看两门课程的大纲提要。所有两门课程的附属材料,包括拓展阅读、年表、参考文献和图表等等都已上传。当年在Burton教授的课上,课程大纲、拓展阅读、参考文献和年表都是打印分发给学生,而所有的图表则由Burton教授按照特定的排列顺序放映给学生的。当时,文字和图像资料都是从既有文献中拿来,或是将其按照当时更时兴的罗马字母重新排序,或是将其略作修改以映时势。然后仅仅注明出处,对文献贡献者(那些“大家”们)了表感谢,便可以使用了。

这不由得又引出另一个我们所关注的重要问题:对于“知识产权”的理解。上世纪七八十年代Burton先生教授这两门课程的时候,至少在中国和日本,用于公共教育的“知识产权”并没有像如今这般受到控制。而当今社会,“知识产权”的所有权在几乎所有的教育和研究活动中占据首屈一指的地位。而且,如此的“知识产权”保护必然带来的话语霸权决定了什么研究项目是“有用的”。Burton教授和Smallshaw先生对此都不以为然,并认为对“知识产权”的如此保护实际上阻碍了人们对知识的探究。诚然,在如今的学界,除了大学里供养着的专家们,其他有志于研究的人们很难取得充足的研究材料;而研究“没有用的”项目亦无法找到足够的资金支持。然而,信息革命和互联网,为这些既不依附于任何大学或大型研究机构,又希望研究一些自主项目的人们,提供了追寻真理的可能性。

如上所述是我们的立场和价值观,本网站自当遵循:本网站全部材料向所有用户公益性开放,并希望能籍此助走在探究知识和寻求真理路上的人们一臂之力。我们全心全意地感谢先贤们为今天的学术研究所奠定的基础,但我们依然坚信任何以知识保护为名,而牟利或控制为实的手段都将阻碍人们对于知识的探究和对真理的追寻。

固然如此,我们依然尽可能在所有需要的地方清楚明了地标注材料的来源和出处。我们非常谨慎地录入图片和其他信息。对于那些有知识产权保护的,我们力求注明,并附上出处。对于那些没有知识产权保护的,用户们可以自由使用。如果任何组织或个人对本网站所使用材料持有异议,请随时联系我们。


The most important thing to understand about China is its guiding ideology or world view.

Click on the button below to learn more about the ideology behind China's foreign relations and to continue into the site.

ideology

Our Masthead

Our masthead is a collage of personalities, institutions, and events. From the left, these include Hiram Maxim, inventor of the "Maxim" machine gun, demonstrating its effectiveness to the last Qing dynasty "Prime Minister", Li Hongzhang, at Eynsford, England in 1896; Sir Robert Hart; Soong Ching-ling (Song Qingling; Mme. Sun Yat-sen); two views of deliberations between top officials of the Zongli Geguo Shiwu Yamen—a Qing proto-"foreign ministry"; a portrait of Bin Qun, the Qing's first semi-official emissary abroad; and a portion of a painting depicting the "Boxer" uprising of 1900.

关于本网站抬头的解释

本网站的抬头是一副关于中国对外关系史中一些重要人物,机构和时间的抽象拼贴画。
从左至右,首先是马克沁机枪的发明者,海勒姆·史蒂文斯·马克沁爵士,在英格兰的爱因斯福德,向清朝的最后一位“总理”,李鸿章,描述马克沁机枪的功效;然后是罗伯特·赫德先生(在清政府官至正一品);宋庆龄女士;然后是两幅描绘当时清政府总理各国事务衙门(总理衙门,清朝的“外交部”)官员会晤的图景;然后是清朝第一位半政府性质的驻外大使,斌椿(同治五年,著有《乘槎笔记》)的肖像;最后是一副关于1900年义和团兴起的残卷。