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Andrew Chittick – The Resistant South: Sketching a History of the Wu People in the First Millennium CE
November 12, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Speaker: Andrew Chittick, Eckerd College
The history of East Asia in the first millennium CE is ordinarily framed as the successive “fragmentation” of China under the Han dynasty, and its “reunification” under the Sui and Tang dynasties. This talk develops an alternative perspective, in which mainland East Asia is characterized by many distinct cultural regions, which developed a thriving multi-state order following the breakup of the multi-cultural Han Empire. Over the next four centuries East Asian peoples began to articulate their separate political, cultural, even ethnic identities, which invites us to write meaningful histories of them as distinctive peoples. My recent work focuses on the political identity of the Wuren or “Wu people” of the Yangzi delta region, who in the 3rd-6th centuries CE formed the nucleus of the sprawling, multi-cultural Jiankang Empire, repeatedly resisting the imperialist pressure of regimes based in the Central Plains of the Yellow River. In this talk I will highlight their use of distinctive local cultural elements in legitimating their rule, their similarities to contemporary Southeast Asian regimes, and their eventual adoption of South and Southeast Asian political models.
Andrew Chittick is the E. Leslie Peter Professor of East Asian Humanities and History at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL. A native of California, he received his PhD in 1997 from the University of Michigan. He is the author of Patronage and Community in Medieval China: The Xiangyang Garrison, 400-600 CE (SUNY Press, 2010). He was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2016-17, and last year held a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His next book, The Jiankang Empire in Chinese and World History: Ethnic Identity and Political Culture, is scheduled to be released by Oxford University Press next year.