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Gregory E. Rutledge, "Race, Slavery, and the Re-evaluation of the T'ang Canon" page 1 of 11 CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 16.6 (2014): Special Issue Western Canons in a Changing East Asia. Ed. Simon C. Estok


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In his article "Race, Slavery, and the Revaluation of the T'ang Canon" Gregory E. Rutledge re-evaluates—from the purview of African Diaspora literary studies—historiography that considers the place of East African slave lore in T'ang Dynasty fiction. Julie Wilensky's "The Magical Kunlun and 'Devil Slaves': Chinese Perceptions of Dark-skinned People and Africa before 1500" (2002), a revision of Chang Hsing-lang's "The Importation of Negro Slaves to China Under the T'ang Dynasty (A.D. 618- 907)" (1930), is pivotal since it occupies the nexus between European-American, East-Asian, and African-Diasporic canons and policies. Rutledge situates Wilensky's and Chang's works in the context of Edward W. Said's Orientalism, an essential heurist for understanding Western subjugation of the "Orient." However, in light of Wilensky's and Chang's non-engagement with the vast body of Western research on slavery, Rutledge argues that an older Afro-Orientalist frame is needed to establish an heuristic sensitive to the ancient East African culture and exceptionalism immanent in the stories Wilensky and Chang treat.