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Sarah Schneewind
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA 92093-0013)
Shrines to Living Officials and Political Participation in Ming China, 1368-1644

Ming people inherited and created a landscape dotted with temples and shrines honoring not only deities, but men and women. Scholars have studied shrines to dead people, but have hardly noticed a very common set of shrines to men who were still alive. Ideally built by local commoners sorry to part with a good official moving to another post, pre-mortem shrines were legal, accepted, and ubiquitous. They could be temporary or permanent, large or small; some men were enshrined together, while one county magistrate had an image in each home. This first book on pre-mortem shrines will focus on Ming, whose autocratic, bureaucratic monarchy is often seen as the height of despotism in China, and posed as the defining other to a democratizing Europe. I will show that Ming subjects, not just elite men but also commoners, used pre-mortem shrines to claim roles in politics, claims recognized as legitimate within the Mandate of Heaven ideology that justified imperial power.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
East Asian History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2012 – 6/30/2013