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Dagmar Schafer – Lists, Local Gazeteers, and the True Lies of Premodern China’s Patterns of Social Mobility

April 15, 2019 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm

Speaker: Dagmar Schäfer, Director of Department III, “Artefacts, Action, and Knowledge,” Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Chair: Victor Seow, Assistant Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University

Since the 1950s, historians of China have researched and praised the possibilities of upward mobility in China’s late imperial meritocratic society. Through the civil service examinations, merchants, farmers, and artisans, irrespective of cultural origin (if not the occasional woman) could achieve official ranks and rise into social and political power. In this talk, Dagmar Schäfer introduces how lists and local gazetteers—and a digital humanities approach—may help to reveal “other” historical patterns of social mobility and shed new light on historical China’s “scholarly ways.” She will examine the role of expertise in the 13th-century Yuan dynastic census system that registered households categorized by different “crafts,” look at the inclusion of these lists into the growing genre of Ming-Qing (14th-19th century) local gazetteers, and explore their implications for China’s current landscape of crafts.


April 15, 2019
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


CGIS South S020, Belfer Case Study Room
1730 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States
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Harvard University Asia Center

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