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China and Inner Asia
Affective Foundations: The Emergence of the Western Zhou Dynasty in Ancient China
Individual Paper Presenter(s)
University of California, Los Angeles, United States
The transition from the Late Shang dynasty (ca. 1300 – 1046 BC) based in Anyang to the Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1046 – 771 BC) founded over five hundred kilometers to the west in Shaanxi during the late second millennium BC represents one of the most significant geopolitical and cultural transformations in ancient China. However, little is understood about the social forces underlying the emergence and early expansion of the Zhou. This paper investigates the intersections between the complex forces informing social relationships, inequalities, and the circulation of shared traditions in Shaanxi during the late second millennium BC. A research framework employing network analysis, multivariate statistics, and GIS-based spatial analysis is adopted to study relationships between the diverse communities occupying Shaanxi during the late second millennium BC. This paper demonstrates that the spread of shared traditions among Shaanxi communities stimulated cohesion and negotiation between these varied social groups. The affective forces produced within the circulation and adoption of these traditions, particularly cooking and pottery production practices, were central to the amalgamation of communities that defined the early Zhou. Moreover, intense negotiation between communities generated by increasing interaction and the adoption of varied traditions proved to be a potent environment for the production of the inequalities central to early Zhou power structures. By examining the development of Zhou social organization and inequalities, this paper provides a unique vantage point into the connections between the forces engendering social relationships and the production of inequalities within complex sociopolitical systems.