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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Hidden Structures: Data, Social Networks and Politics in Early and Medieval China
4: New Networks, New Societies, and New Political Ideals during the Tang-Song Interregnum
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
University of California, Berkeley, United States
Using a recently-compiled dataset of tenth-century social relations (compiled based on a comprehensive survey of extant biographies and tomb epitaphs of tenth-century individuals), this paper will examine the transformation of elite society between the collapse of Tang authority in 880 and the completion of the Song unification project in 979. The contention is that particular characteristics of this period of disunity--including an initial two decades of extreme violence, endemic elite migration, and competition between regional courts--utterly transformed social networks with far-reaching consequences. Topics will include the structures of the new elite societies at the regional courts (composed of an amalgam of individuals from varied social and geographic origins), the diversification of elite marriage patterns, and how new social relations themselves may have spurred a dramatic shift in Chinese political culture, as reflected specifically in the demise of a medieval "aristocratic" ethos.