Empires and Criminals: Can Convict Politics in the Past Shed Light on the Present?
3: Parallel Worlds: Alternative Narratives of Imprisoned Officials in Ming China (1368-1644)
Sunday, March 27, 2022
9:00am – 10:30am EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 322B
Ohio State University, United States
Ming officials were frequently disciplined for a wide range of violations and misconducts. The codes governed all aspects of their personal and professional lives. The inseparability of their private and public behaviors in the Confucian system determined that both spheres were subject to scrutiny and disciplinary measures. Paradoxically, in the Ming, this world of discipline largely left the officials’ social images alone. In other words, the disciplinary regime did not regulate how they were seen or understood outside the official narratives. The alternative narratives of imprisoned officials included those created by their families, fellow countrymen, or the people they had served in their jurisdictions. This presentation will look at some cases to illustrate how these parallel worlds operated to keep the educated committed to the system. It also explores a few exceptions to think about whether the late Ming saw these two worlds beginning to intersect.