China & Inner Asia: Table of Contents
Organizer and Chair: Katherine Carlitz, University of Pittsburgh
Discussant: John W. Dardess, University of Kansas
This panel is the fruit of an active e-mail discussion, sponsored by the Association for Ming Studies, on the nature of local identity and problems of local administration during the Ming dynasty. The Ming grounded dynastic legitimacy in terms that placed the emperor at the apex of social and moral influence, but the states limited resources meant that practical administrative decisions typically had to be left to middle or lower-ranking officials, often pitted against the powerful families whom they were supposed to tax and regulate, and against a general population not necessarily convinced by the states construction of social norms. How, then, did this long-lasting and relatively stable dynasty endure?
Sarah Schneewind, Columbia University
The study of the establishment of community schools in the Ming provides a new perspective on state-building. State institutions, including community schools, frequently competed with local and clerical institutions and individuals for resources and prestige; state-sponsored institution-building was not centrally directed; and it was not particularly successful.
Community schools not only promulgated the Confucian faith; they often physically replaced religious institutions and confiscated their property. Among other officials, Wei Jiao, Vice Education Intendant of Guangdong in the 1520s, replaced hundreds of "improper shrines," including Buddhist and Daoist temples, with community schools and related institutions, as gazetteers record. His collected works explain how he planned to use the schools to supplant religious practitioners.
Community schools were initiated chiefly by individual officials across the realm, rather than on orders from the court or upper bureaucracy. Similarly, each local official had theories about which temples were "improper." Wei, for instance, destroyed temples to cults sponsored by the dynasty.
The community schools Wei established foundered after his departure, and some temples quickly revived, because of popular sentiments. Popular resentment is shown in a dream recorded by Wang Shizhen in which Wei is tried in hell for destroying Buddhist relics, and by accusations one biography says the people of Guangdong made. People may also have resented the fact that, according to data in the Ming History, temple lands went to two powerful Cantonese friends of Weis, associates of moral philosophers Wang Yangming and Zhan Ruoshui. Overall, state competition with religious institutions was unsystematic and often unsuccessful.
Jaret Weisfogel, Columbia University
This paper will explore the different functions of two non-official local institutions involved in chiang-hsüeh ("discussion of learning"): local academies (shu-yüan) and community compacts (hsiang-yüeh). The opposing views of two prominent scholar-officials of the period, Kuan Chih-tao (15361608) and Lo Ju-fang (15151588), will suggest how these two institutions reflect conflicting social implications of chiang-hsüeh. As both Lo and Kuan invoke Ming Tai-tsu in their respective causes, a comparison of their approaches will also indicate the diverse uses of the founders authority long after his death.
Kuan Chih-tao saw local academies as socially and politically disruptive. Conducting large-scale chiang-hsüeh meetings, academies often drew itinerant audiences. Moreover, though non-official institutions, academies had gained considerable political leverage. They were patronized by provincial administrators to the neglect of the official schools and even the administrative facilities. Kuan Chih-tao cited Lo Ju-fang as a prime example of both these negative tendencies. Lo was a leader in the trend toward mass lecture meetings, and an administrator deeply involved in chiang-hsüeh while in office. In an effort to reverse these tendencies, Kuan Chih-tao invoked Ming Tai-tsu as a model for more centralized control.
However, Kuans criticisms conceal a significant detail: Lo conducted much of his chiang-hsüeh in conjunction with the community compact. Los community compacts demonstrate an effort to instill chiang-hsüeh with ritual order and to root it in a stable local society. It is, then, telling that Kuan downplayed the community compact in his criticism of Lo. Moreover, at his compact meetings, Lo focused his lectures on Ming Tai-tsus Six Injunctions (Liu yü). Los invocation of Tai-tsu is doubly ironic. Not only does it further belie Kuans characterization of Los chiang-hsüeh. It also reinvents Tai-tsus institutional legacy, adding yet another layer to chiang-hsüehs ambiguous status, for Tai-tsu never officially authorized the community compact.
Thomas Nimick, United States Military Academy
This paper will examine how magistrates were appointed to county posts in the Ming period, and consider the extent to which the competence of the magistrate and the difficulty of the post were considered in appointments. It will show that although there is evidence of informal procedures in the Ministry of Personnel to match competent officials with difficult posts, there was no formal system such as existed for much of the Ching period. It will also show that in the sixteenth century, even these informal measures were undone when appointment procedures were changed to include a lottery system.
This paper will also examine developments at the provincial level, where officials responded to the inadequacies of the central appointment process by developing their own system to match competent officials with difficult posts. These developments supplanted the central appointment procedures and were more effective at ensuring that difficult posts be filled by competent officials.
This paper will trace the chronological development of appointment practices from the formative reign of Ming Tai-tsu through the end of the Ming. Particular attention will be paid to changes that occurred near the end of Tai-tsus reign, the emergence of informal procedures in the Ministry of Personnel, the increased role of provincial officials beginning in the fifteenth century, and the establishment of a lottery system in the sixteenth century. It will confirm and explain Parsons findings that there was differentiation in the appointment of local officials.
Yonglin Jiang, Grand Valley State University
How was law in imperial China translated into social reality? More particularly, in what ways were dynastic rules used to guide people and build local societies in the Ming? This paper attempts to answer these questions by way of examining a late Ming casebook, Xunci (The Court Verdicts that Touch the Heart).
Xunci consists of 304 law cases that were tried, judged, commented, and selected by Zhang Kentang, who served as magistrate of Xunxian (Jingshi) from 1625 to 1634. This case collection is a particularly valuable resource for studying Ming local history in that it reflected a local perspective which was from time to time different from that of the central government. Indeed, one finds in this document that while the magistrate was striving to enforce the Great Ming Code in building a harmonious society, he was applying the dynastic rules to a time when great social changes were taking place. Thus he had to interpret those rules in terms of changing local conditions. Zhang Kentangs efforts in building his district may be understood in three aspects: (1) keeping social order; (2) teaching people moral values; and (3) adjusting the Great Ming Code to changing social conditions. Therefore this casebook provides its readers with an instance when a local magistrate tried to build local society on the basis of the dynastic rules at a time of weak central government.