By Margar Sleeboom
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Extra resources for Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed in Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal (Nissan Institute Routledge Japanese Studies Series)
What He is doing here is exploiting an, in fact, old discussion of totemism in order to prove the unity of China by turning the dragon into a national totem. Thus, a claimed Western denial of Chinese totemism becomes tantamount to denying China its unity. Here, ethnological and historical materials are employed to provide the cognitive evidence in support of giving credence to the national symbol of the dragon. The dragon as an oceanic giant python In contrast with He Xingliang, who does not consider the dragon as a biological being, Yang Xiulu, an official at the Literature and Art Research Institute of the Qiandong Nan Miaozu Dongzu autonomous prefecture, asserts that the dragon must have been a real animal.
In China, however, the worship of the dragon continued for thousands of years, which is an indication that the dragon could not have been a totem. Third, in hunter societies the totem is usually a real animal. Out of all the different dragon shapes, which animal represents the real dragon? Fourth, a totem is usually not worshipped as a supra-national force. The dragon, therefore, seems to have uncommonly great authority. Fifth, totemism has followed the historical development of ancestor worship and disappeared together with it; the worship of the dragon, however, has become stronger in time.
The nature of boundary markers used in identity construction, together with the ways nations and regions are staged internationally, and the role of natural, cultural and/or universal categories in academic theory provide a clue to the politics of identity creation. In Chapter Seven of Part III, I make a distinction between the various methods by which alterity is envisaged (horizontal polarization (lateral juxtaposition), vertical stratification, and temporalization), making a distinction between Other and They.