Michael Szonyi - Director's Seminar, "Soldiers, Smugglers and Draft-Dodgers on China’s Southeast Coast: Social Histories of the Ming Military"

Date: 

Thursday, October 28, 2010, 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Director's Seminar

Thursday, October 28, 2010   4:00 pm

Soldiers, Smugglers and Draft-Dodgers on China’s Southeast Coast: Social Histories of the Ming Military
Michael Szonyi, Harvard University

Soldiers in coastal garrison towns in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were charged with preventing illegal overseas trade. Why did so many of them engage in the very activity they were supposed to suppress? The answer may lie in the institutional imperatives of the Ming military system of garrisons and hereditary military households. By looking at the family strategies of these households, strategies ranging from loyal service to piracy to desertion, I will try to shed light both on the links between the Ming military and the Asian trade ecumene and, more broadly, on the interaction between state policies and everyday life in the Ming.

Michael Szonyi is professor of history in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He studies the local history of southeast China, especially in the Ming dynasty, and the history of Chinese popular religion. His most recent book is Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Line (2008). He is currently working on a social history of the Ming military.

Location: CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room (S020), 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
Contact: lkluz@fas.harvard.edu