Information, Territory, and Networks: The Crisis and Maintenance of Empire in Song China

Information, Territory, and Networks: The Crisis and Maintenance of Empire in Song China

by Hilde De Weerdt


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The occupation of the northern half of the Chinese territories in the 1120s brought about a transformation in political communication in the south that had lasting implications for imperial Chinese history. By the late eleventh century, the Song court no longer dominated the production of information about itself and its territories. Song literati gradually consolidated their position as producers, users, and discussants of court gazettes, official records, archival compilations, dynastic histories, military geographies, and maps. This development altered the relationship between court and literati in political communication for the remainder of the imperial period. Based on a close reading of reader responses to official records and derivatives and on a mapping of literati networks, the author further proposes that the twelfth-century geopolitical crisis resulted in a lasting literati preference for imperial restoration and unified rule.

Hilde De Weerdt makes an important intervention in cultural and intellectual history by examining censorship and publicity together. In addition, she reorients the debate about the social transformation and local turn of imperial Chinese elites by treating the formation of localist strategies and empire-focused political identities as parallel rather than opposite trends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674088429
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/10/2016
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #388
Pages: 536
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Hilde De Weerdt is Professor of Chinese History at Leiden University.

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Maps, and Tables ix

Preface and Acknowledgments xv

List of Abbreviations xxiii

Introduction 1

Part I Contemporary Dimensions of Empire: The Court

1 The Dissemination of the Archives and the Formation of the Late Imperial Archival Mentality 35

2 Court Gazettes and Short Reports 76

Part II Transhistorical Dimensions of Empire: The Chinese Territories

3 The Reconstitution of Empire in Empire Maps 107

Part III Margins, Borders, and Frontiers

4 Strategic Discourse: Building Frontiers in the Public Domain 167

5 The Multiplexity of Premodern Borders 233

Part IV Imperial Information Networks

6 The Notebook Phenomenon 281

7 Informant Networks and Literati Identities 325

8 Representing the Foreign Other 395

Conclusions and Prospects 427

Appendix 1 Supplementary Tables 439

Appendix 2 A Note on Topical Markup 467

Bibliography 469

Index 501

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