Craig Clunas and John Fairbanks Analytical Essay by Nicky

Craig Clunas and John Fairbanks
An analysis of how materialism influenced the writings and viewpoints of Craig Clunas and John Fairbanks.
# 149598 | 3,208 words | 11 sources | MLA | 2011 | US
Published on Dec 25, 2011 in Art (History) , History (Asian) , Asian Studies (General)

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The paper analyzes how Craig Clunas examines the Ming period in China and highlights how he does not consider the art from the Chinese perspective but from that of the European connoisseur, a materialistic viewpoint. On the other hand, the paper looks at the views of John Fairbanks and how he focuses on the culture of China without any comparisons to western culture and with no regard for his own feelings as an American to cloud his judgment. The paper points out, however, that we are comparing two different paradigms that were operating and directed at two different sets of values.

Two World Views
Craig Clunas: Art View
The Views of John Fairbanks

From the Paper:

"Craig Clunas argues that the eight discourses of Gao Lian and the ZenZheng's treatise will appear out of context to historians of the Ming dynasty. However the works reflect the changes that were current in China in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. They point out to the evolution of the material culture of the period. He cites the example of development in agriculture, ceramics and the influence of Christianity that made inroads into the Chinese empire. (Miller, 96) The argument he advances over the influence of materialism goes to the extent of showing the interest of the Chinese in building dams, and the technical curiosity and engineering skills that were promoted during the period. The growth of technology and improvements in agriculture and the methods of budgeting the empires finances and the evolution of the gentry which is emphasized in detail point out the author's obsession in promoting the western notions as having been imbibed into the Chinese empire much earlier in the Ming period. The arguments of the author Craig Clunas therefore attribute the collapse of the empire to the dis-satisfied intellectuals and their influence. While it is true that the Chinese culture does give special importance to the learned, we cannot agree with the author that the collapse of the Ming dynasty was engineered and made possible by the intellectual dissatisfaction alone."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Barringer, T. J; Flynn, Tom. Colonialism and the object: empire, material culture, and the museum. Routledge, 1998.
  • Clunas, Craig. Superfluous things: material culture and social status in early modern China. University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley; Liu, Kwang-ching. The Cambridge illustrated history of China. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Fairbank, John K; Lindbeck, John M. H. United States Aid to Latin America in Chinese Studies. Asian Survey, vol. 1, no. 9, November 1961, pp. 32-35.
  • Gonzalez, David; Fairbank, John K. China Scholar of Wide Influence, Is Dead at 84. New York Times, September 16, 1991, pp: 4-5.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Craig Clunas and John Fairbanks (2011, December 25) Retrieved June 09, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Craig Clunas and John Fairbanks" 25 December 2011. Web. 09 June. 2023. <>