SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Zhou, Xun (1998) A history of Chinese perceptions of "Jews" and Judaism. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (10MB)


While prejudice against Jews has been regarded as a real and ongoing category in Western culture, little attention has been paid to the myths of the 'Jews' and their impact in countries outside the West. My work draws on a wide variety of source material from the past two centuries to examine the images of the 'Jews' as constructed in China. However, my interest here does not lie in the determination of the boundary between the real and fictional aspects of these images. Rather, it lies in the implications associated with the 'Jew' as an 'other', which remains a distant mirror in the construction of the 'self ' amongst various social groups in modern China. In China, representations of the 'Jews' and Judaism are very complex. Although these representations seem to correspond to images of the 'Jews' in Europe, it would be superficial to reduce them to purely 'Western influence'. Representations of the 'Jews' have been endowed with indigenous meaning by modernizing elites since the late nineteenth-century. Unlike anti-Semites of Europe who used the language of Jews as the mark of their inferiority, in China the difference of the 'Jews' has been marked by their 'non-Chineseness'. By creating the 'Jews' as a homogenous group, which acts as a constitutive outsider which embodies all the negative, as well as positive qualities, which were feared or desired by various social groups in China, theses Chinese could thus identify themselves as a integrated reference group: a homogenous 'in-group'. They are thus able to project their own anxieties onto outsiders like the 'Jews'. In this respect, it corresponds to a widespread fear, as well as need of an 'other', which can be found in many cultures and societies. The present thesis does not, however, supply the final answer. It is meant to be a historical study in order to point out that the prejudice about the 'Jews' is not merely a 'western problem', it exists in China. It therefore opens a field for general and wider discussions, not only about the 'Jews', but also about other 'marginalised' groups, such as 'blacks' and 'homosexuals'.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item