2012 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture

The Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia is pleased to invite you to attend the 2012 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture with featured speaker Professor Wang Fan-sen, Vice President of Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Place: UBC Asian Centre Auditorium, 1871 West Mall

Time: The lecture will begin at 7pm, with a reception beginning at 6pm.

Lecture: “Shoes, Umbrellas, and Tofu: Appraising Local Officials in Late Imperial China”

Lecture: “Shoes, Umbrellas, and Tofu: Appraising Local Officials in Late Imperial China”

Historians have long been interested in the rituals of appraisals for officials that took place in local temples. This is so for good reasons. For most scholar-officials in late imperial China, earning a place in a Confucius Temple (thus securing one’s privilege to accept offerings of cold pork left by worshippers) was indeed a lifelong aspiration. And as a result, rituals of appraisals did generate a sense of anticipation and were an important part of socialization and social order in late imperial times.

In this talk, I would like to explore a related though lesser-known phenomenon: the appraisal of local officials by common people. In examining popular responses to state power, scholars have tended to focus on resistance and revolts (e.g. James Scott’s Weapons of the Weak). By contrast, in this lecture I will examine another way people responded to state authority: ritual demonstrations of approval and praise for “good officials.”

Among the ritual behaviours to be discussed are the taking off of shoes, the gifting of so-called umbrellas of ten-thousand-names (wan ming san; that is, umbrellas with names of villages written on them), and the placing of pieces of tofu on incense burners. Such rituals were typically preformed on the occasion of an official’s leaving office. As such, they were understood to have strong evaluative implications.


Monday, October 1, 2012
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Research Seminar: “Self-Censorship in Qing Texts”
Room 604, Asian Centre, UBC

About the Speaker:

Professor Wang Fan-sen is an historian specializing in the cultural-intellectual history of early modern and modern China. Among his most acclaimed works are Zhang Taiyan de si xiang (The thought of Zhang Taiyan; 1985), Gu shi bian yun dong de xing qi (The rise of the doubting-antiquity movement; 1987), Fu Ssu-nien: A Life in Chinese History and Politics (2000), Zhongguo jin dai si xiang yu xue shu de xi pu (The geneology of modern Chinese thought; 2003), and Wan Ming Qing chu si xiang shi lun (Ten essays on Ming and Qing intellectual history; 2004).

Mindful of the interactions between the intellectual, the cultural, and the social, Wang Fan-sen has in his works offered original analyses of the shift in intellectual paradigms and cultural patterns, the relationship between traditional and modern thought, and the emergence of a modern Chinese intelligentsia and intellectual communities. He has also conducted in-depth research on the history of Chinese historiography and shown how developments in the study of history were closely linked to the transformations in politics, culture, society, as well as the traditional Chinese value system.

Please direct any questions to Julia Paek: jpaek(at)mail.ubc.ca