Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226712017 Will Publish July 2020
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226711966 Will Publish July 2020
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The Compensations of Plunder

How China Lost Its Treasures

Justin M. Jacobs

The Compensations of Plunder

Justin M. Jacobs

352 pages | 32 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2020
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226712017 Will Publish July 2020
Cloth $82.50 ISBN: 9780226711966 Will Publish July 2020
E-book $10.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226712154 Will Publish July 2020
From the 1790s until World War I, Western museums filled their shelves with art and antiquities from around the world. These objects are now widely regarded as stolen from their countries of origin, and demands for their repatriation grow louder by the day. In The Compensations of Plunder, Justin M. Jacobs brings to light the historical context of the exodus of cultural treasures from northwestern China. Based on a close analysis of previously neglected archives in English, French, and Chinese, Jacobs finds that many local elites in China acquiesced to the removal of art and antiquities abroad, understanding their trade as currency for a cosmopolitan elite. In the decades after the 1911 Revolution, however, these antiquities went from being “diplomatic capital” to disputed icons of the emerging nation-state. A new generation of Chinese scholars began to criminalize the prior activities of archaeologists, erasing all memory of the pragmatic barter relationship that once existed in China. Recovering the voices of those local officials, scholars, and laborers who shaped the global trade in antiquities, The Compensations of Plunder brings historical grounding to a highly contentious topic in modern Chinese history and informs heated debates over cultural restitution throughout the world.
Contents
Introduction

1. Sahibs in the Desert
2. Accumulating Culture
3. Gentlemen of Empire
4. The Priceless Nation
5. Rise of the Apprentices
6. Foreign Devils Begone

Conclusion

Acknowledgments
Glossary of Chinese Characters
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Pär Cassel, University of Michigan
“Jacobs tells the story of how the cultural relics of northwest China were collected, dispersed, and sometimes destroyed, in a new and refreshingly nonjudgmental way. Drawing on insights from literature on similar processes in the ailing Ottoman Empire as well as on primary sources in English, French, and Chinese, he narrates this story in granular detail and with a keen sense of the motives of the individual actors on both the Western and Chinese side of the story. Clearly the result of a very meticulously researched project, The Compensations of Plunder is a well-crafted and tremendously enjoyable read.”
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