“Civilizing China”: Western “liberal barbarism” in the 19th century and the consequences for China’s self-image
The lecture is based on his recent book, Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China, that describes the destruction in 1860 of the Chinese imperial palace Yuanmingyuan by British and French troops. The palace, which held one of history’s greatest art collections, had been the pride of the Chinese Emperor. The brutal violence employed by Western powers in the destruction of Yuanmingyuan seems to contradict their liberal image and the aim of "civilizing” China. Why did they choose such ruthless tactics? What consequences did the attack on the imperial palace have on the Chinese self-image? What can we learn from this historical example?
Erik Ringmar is professor of political science at Lund University. He is the author of numerous books covering international relations theory, history, and cultural and economic sociology. The latest book Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China was published by Palgrave in 2013.
For more informaion about Prof. Ringmar see http://www.svet.lu.se/en/erik-ringmar