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Paper Abstracts

Panel 1: Status and Society (Saturday 9:15 AM – 10:45 AM)

“Prince in Wealth, Pauper in Status: Merchant Conceptions of Status and Power in the Edo Period” – Erin Gallagher, University of Pennsylvania

The Edo period was a time of transition for Japan, in which the commercialization of the economy was occurring faster than the political and social order could keep up with. As a result, the boundaries of status did not necessarily map onto the boundaries of wealth or power, and the scope of what someone of warrior or merchant status could look like was changing. This shift was quite apparent among wealthy, land-owning city merchants who had accrued great fortunes despite their place at the bottom of the social system. Samurai, in contemporary writing, would often portray merchants as greedy and exploitative, extravagant and wasteful, with no qualms about taking advantage of their social superiors. However, at the same time, merchant families in their codes were emphasizing honor, honesty, frugality, and respect for authority. These images each look upon a facet of merchants in the Edo period as they navigated the changing economy and the authority of the Tokugawa regime. In this paper, I examine merchant conceptions of status and the political order. I argue that while they remained in low status positions, they developed an understanding of their own importance to society and the economy which inspired them to pursue their own forms of power through strategic maneuvering within the limits set upon them by the Tokugawa regime. Through this, I comment on the relationship between merchants and infrastructure, sumptuary laws, and culture.

“Misuse of law?: A comparative analysis of the Chosŏn government’s legal practice in persecuting Catholicism” – Meng Heng Lee, Columbia University

This paper aims to explore the legal logic and legal practice of the Chosŏn’s persecuting policy toward Catholics. To question whether the legal reasoning of the suppressions, including the appropriation of “making magical inscriptions and magical incantations,” was invalid, this study will reexamine the legal logic of those cases and draw on similar cases in contemporary Qing China, where Catholicism were also persecuted. By juxtaposing the legislations of anti-Catholicism law and adjudications of Catholics in the Qing and the Chosŏn, I conclude that both the Qing and the Chosŏn were suppressing Catholicism simultaneously but only invoking different laws in the Great Ming Code and the Qing Code, respectively; thus, the Chosŏn’s legal regulations on persecuting Catholicism established during this period should not be considered misapplied. In addition, by looking at the anti-Catholicism legalization in Chosŏn Korea and Qing China, I further argue that the legal system of premodern Korea is hardly a copy of the Chinese model and that, although both the Qing and Chosŏn all followed the great Ming code, the Chosŏn’s special legalization based mainly on “making magical inscriptions and magical incantations,” which differed from Qing’s invoking the “prohibiting sorcery and heretical arts,” implies the existence of a polycentric premodern East Asia. This paper based on the Ming, Qing, and Chosŏn legal codes, the official chronical records of the Qing and Chosŏn, and the memorials to the Qing emperors, thereby contributing to the legal history of Chosŏn Korea and Qing China, religious studies, and East Asian studies.

“Qingti, the devine son’s condemned mother: filial piety and submissiveness for women in medieval China under dual influences of Confucianism and Buddhism” – Meilian Wu, University of Pennsylvania

This paper analyzes the topic of female filial piety in medieval China under the dual influences of Confucianism and Buddhism, reflected through the depiction of Mu Lian (Maudgalyayana)’s mother Qing Ti in the yulanpen literature along with other examples from Confucian and Buddhist texts. Contrary to the general understanding of the cause for Qing Ti’s condemnation, this paper aims to argue that instead of mere stinginess, the real reasons for her reincarnation as a hungry ghost is her failure to play her proper social role as a woman, as well as violating the norms for female filiality and submissiveness that are central to both the Confucian and Buddhist traditions. In the paper, I first examine the difference between the role of filial piety in Confucian and Buddhist ideologies. Buddhist Filial devotion, as opposed to the Confucian version, is predicated on one’s guilt for inflicting pain on the mother at birth and fear for her punishment in the afterlife. Following this analysis, I provide evidences of female filiality in both Confucian and Buddhist sources and argue that Medieval women performed filial obligations widely and independently. I then argue that filial piety is often associated with the submissiveness of women, which is posited as an essential quality for all their social roles both in Confucian and Buddhist texts. I conclude by demonstrating that the incorporation of the Buddhist monastic order (Sangha) into the performance of ancestral worship practices makes an individual’s religious devotion a manifestation of his/ her filial attitude.

Panel 2: Reimagining Religion (Saturday 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM)

“Managing Post-Colonial Religious Rights: Religious Freedom and Religions Policy of the U.S. Military Occupation of South Korea, 1945-1948” – John G. Grisafi, University of Pennsylvania

What is religious freedom? How is it defined and how is it promoted and protected by governance? In 1945, at the end of World War II and Japanese colonial rule of Korea, United States military occupation forces believed that, like all of the former Japanese empire, Korea had lacked religious freedom during the decades of Japanese rule. Consequently, one of the principle objectives of the U.S. occupation was to establish “the principle of religious freedom” and to protect Koreans “in their personal and religious rights.” This paper, a portion of my thesis, explores the Occupation’s approach to religious affairs in a liberated Korea and the development and implementation of Occupation religions policy. In particular, I examine three key issues. First, I explain the Occupation’s treatment of the state-sponsored Shinto shrine system, which the occupiers associated with Japanese ultra-nationalism, and how it differed from Occupation policy in Japan. Second, I investigate the creation and articulation of religions policy, including the definition of religion and religious freedom (and sometimes lack thereof), and the politics of these regulations and the language used within them. Third, I review how other Occupation policies created limitations and inequalities in the provision of religious freedom in South Korea, particularly with regard to advantaging of Christian missionaries and the disadvantaging of Japanese religions. This paper will elucidate how Occupation policies in Korea, influenced by competing American interpretations of religious freedom, were nominally based on the concept of “benevolent neutrality,” but in practice did not have a neutral effect on religion in South Korea.

“A Study of the Narrative Pattern of Guanyin Miracle Tales from Six Dynasties to Tang” – Xinchang Li, University of Pennsylvania

The Bodhisattva Guanshiyin觀世音is one of the most influential and popular bodhisattvas in the religious history of China. As the two earliest translations of the Lotus Sutra became available in China, a cult to Guanshiyin had clearly arisen by the fifth century. In the meantime, hundreds of miracle tales recounting his miraculous responses started to circulate among both literati and commoners. It is worth noticing that almost all miracle tales about Guanshiyin that survived from early medieval China follow the same narrative pattern: a person is stranded in dire distress – he calls on Guanshiyin for help – he receives a response and is swiftly rescued. However, stories about Guanshiyin have undergone many changes since the Tang dynasty: the subject matter of the stories tended to be increasingly diverse, and the dominant topics changed from getting out of calamities to fulfilling wishes related to daily life, such as family reunions, harmonious marriages, and cures for diseases. Besides, the images of Guanshiyin manifested in these stories started to become clearer. Therefore, in this paper I wish to discuss the changes and developments of miracle tales about Guanshiyin from Six Dynasties through the Tang, in terms of the narrative structures, methods, and contents, as well as the characteristics of Guanshiyin’s own image in these miracle tales. I will also go beyond the texts and locate these miracle tales in their historical context, probing into the reasons behind the prevalence of both the devotion to the bodhisattva and the miracle tales extolling his power.

“Domesticating Shinto: Materialities of Kami Worship Beyond Japan” – Kaitlyn Ugoretz, University of California, Santa Barbara

Shinto is conventionally defined as the “indigenous religion of the land and people of Japan.” Though recent scholarship has labored to historicize the development of Shinto, the academic gaze remains fixed on a Shinto that decidedly resides in Japan and in the past. This vision of Shinto, however, occludes processes of globalization and digitization that are giving the tradition new life at present. In order to update our understanding of the current dynamic state of Shinto, I propose to examine the creation of transnational online Shinto communities through the innovative use of the Internet and social media platforms such as Facebook. Displaced from Japan—the “land of the kami” (shinkoku 神国)—and its sacred sites, members of these transnational communities expertly manipulate digital technology and media to bridge physical and cultural divides (Kuroda and Rambelli 1996). However, as scholars of digital religion such as Heidi Campbell note, previous decades of research have neglected the connection between online and offline practice. Taking a multi-sited netnographic approach (Kozinets 2010), including participant-observation, interviews, and surveys, I will explore how individuals construct their identity as members of a community of global Shinto practitioners through their offline creation, acquisition, customization, and performative display online of ritual materials (i.e. kamidana) for home worship.

Panel 3: Media, Community, and Identity (Saturday 1:30 PM – 3:00PM)

“We Do Not Live For The Sake Of Reproduction”: Analyzing Queer Digital Responses To Anti-LGBT speech on Japanese Social Media” – Patrick Carland, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

This presentation will analyze the discursive responses of Japanese LGBT activists and their allies on social media to recent discriminatory comments made by politicians in Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regarding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It will consider the following recent cases: the online controversy surrounding the now-shuttered literary magazine Shinchō 45, in which the LDP politician Sugita Mio wrote an article stating that LGBT couples lacked “reproductivity” (seisansei) in August 2018, and th  internet response to LDP member Hirasawa Katsuei’s January 2019 comments that the Japanese state would be “destroyed” if it became entirely LGBT. While comments like Sugita’s and Hirasawa’s have been made by other LDP politicians in the past, this presentation will argue that digital queer networks in Japan, organized primarily online through social media such as Twitter and via blogging networks, have enabled LGBT people and their allies to respond to them more forcefully and visibly than ever before. By analyzing the rhetorical strategies used by digital queer communities to respond to these controversies on blogging networks, through digital media such as video and in real-life demonstrations primary organized online, I will argue that these cases indicate the emergence of new modes of LGBT organizing in Japan in the 21st century that are more decentralized, spontaneous, and capable of affecting shifts in public perception than the legally-oriented activism of earlier LGBT rights organizations and publications.

“Vigorous, Graceful, and Well-Educated: Constructing the Image of “Modern Female Student” in Republican China through the Lens of Linglong” – Zhuyuan Han, Duke University

Among all the burgeoning new concepts and norms within the Chinese society during the early twentieth century, the cultural icon of “Modern Girl” stood out conspicuously due to its engendered subversion of conventional heteronormative paradigms, which has also evoked the increasing visibility of young women in the public sphere. Associated with the heated discussions surrounding the ubiquity of “Modern Girls,” the gradually visible presence of female students also aroused appealing impression among the public. Their figures prevailed among various literary and visual cultural works. They were both the most fanatic pursuers of modern fashions and emblems of the “Modern Girl” icon in the eyes of the public and possessed a dual identity of being both the consumers of the emerging new culture and the main object for representation in the realm of popular culture. Linglong, a pocket-sized weekly magazine published between 1931 and 1937 by the Sanhe publishing company in Shanghai, contained a considerable number of photographs and articles concerning or produced by female students, while in the meantime, female students were also the most loyal readers of the magazine. This paper intends to investigate the multifaceted perceptions surrounding the figure of “Female Student” in an era of radical social changes from the public view through analysis on some representative articles and photographs in the magazine. In this paper, I argue that the public prescribed both traditional and modern patriarchal aspirations to female students by configuring them as vigorous youngsters and patriots, graceful and elegant young ladies with proper manners, and well-educated females who are ideal future wives equipped with adequate domestic as well as public knowledge. In addition, I also address female students’ self-identification and self-recognition displayed in juxtaposition in the magazine as their conscious resistance to the oppressive social formulation imposed on them.

“From River Elegy to Amazing China: On the Ironies of Nationalism” – Maciej Kurzynski, Stanford University

Separated by 30 years of rapid economic growth, the divergent aesthetics of two Chinese documentaries River Elegy (Heshang, 1988) and Amazing China (Lihaile, wode guo, 2018) merit a comparative cross-inquiry. While River Elegy expressed a younger generation’s mythic vision of the world that worshipped the azure Western culture with its overseas expeditions and scientific ingenuity, Amazing China turns the tables, and in its depiction of the People’s Republic as a maritime empire celebrates the sheer power of nationalized technology. Unlike the anti-official nature of the 1988 documentary which drew heavily upon Occidentalist symbolism in the service of national self-redefinition, the industrialist message in Amazing China is the one of fulfillment of the modernization promise by the PRC itself. The 2018 production thus depicts China as firmly established beyond the yellow earth and actively engaged in reclaiming the blue oceans. To make the two documentaries illuminate each other will allow us to see that despite their aesthetic discrepancy, the seeds of hegemonic discourse were present already in the first work, not only in what Jing Wang calls the “dangerous equation” that the reform intellectuals set up between fuqiang and xiandai hua, i.e. “wealth and power” and “modernization,” but also in the monologic imagination the structures of both works partake in. The comparison will also reveal the deeply ironic fact that although the promise of River Elegy is said to have been fulfilled, the humanist scholar who cherished the national aspirations has now disappeared without a trace.

Panel 4: National Narratives (Saturday 3:15 PM – 4:45 PM)

“Miraculous Births, Ethnoi, and Other Myths: Qin Origins” – Jason Hagler, University of Pennsylvania

In constructing history the earliest texts we find the mythic texture of the past is often mingled with the favored hobgoblins of more recent academia.  Ethnos stands alongside ancestors hatching from eggs and taking either too seriously presents problems.  The issues in Qin origins serve as an interesting case in mixing myth modern and ancient.  This paper examines the analysis of several sites that have been identified as precursors of or early Qin in the context of the Eastern Migration theory of Qin origins, which seeks to confirm the Bamboo Annals account of the early Qin using archaeology.  This theory states that the Qin are Dongyi influenced by the Shang who migrated west some time before the Early Western Zhou.  The claims are typically made on the strength of shared traits or similarities with the Shang.  In contrast, I examine the data by starting with the features we observe at the sites and comparing them to the features we would expect assuming the theory is true and find a number of problems with the model and discuss, briefly the ways in which it supports some form of Western Origin hypothesis, which says that the Qin culture developed in situ, with a constructivist model akin to the work of Shi Dangshe.

“Who built the “Wall in the North” and what does Chinggis Khan have to do with it?” – Dotno Dashdorj Pount, University of Pennsylvania

Long mounds stretching beyond the horizon in Mongolia are marked as the “Dikes of Chinggis Khaan” in many national maps. One goal of this paper is to distinguish between the wall built by the Liao from those built by the Jin. Moreover, this leads to some puzzles regarding the myth that arise from these walls, and their implications to our understanding of Chinggis Khan. We know these walls were important in the history of medieval Mongolia, but the iconic Secret History of the Mongols is silent about the existence of these walls. Not surprisingly, given the canonical status this text has achieved in the 20 th century, the Mongol-Jin interaction before Chinggis Khaan’s rise to power is largely ignored in modern scholarship: just one way in which the Secret History continues to shape Mongolian self-image today. Indeed, the locations and structures of these walls reflect a past with a highly complex interaction between the Mongolian steppes and the dual-cultured empires arising in or near Manchuria. This past is now forgotten, but its reconstruction could help us understand the nature of wall-building better. In this paper, I will trace the historiography of these walls in both China and Mongolia, discuss the strategic assumptions that underly their interpretation, and thereby interrogate the tension between national myths of yore and now in Mongolia and China regarding the materiality of built structures.

“The road to the top: Shi’s attainment of political power during the Warring States period (403 B.C. to 221 B.C.)” – Yiwen Qiao, University of Pennsylvania

As Martin Kern suggests in “Bronze Inscriptions, the Shijing and the Shangshu,” the idealized and systematized imaginations of antiquity, especially of the Western Zhou period (fl. 11 th century BCE – 771 BCE) by texts composed in the Eastern Zhou period (770–255 BCE) can be regarded as the source of classical Chinese religion, sociopolitical order and cultural accomplishment. As a group that was responsible for the production of these texts, shi士 laid the foundation of intellectual and administrative frameworks for the Chinese society. This paper intends to examine how the shi gradually obtained political power during the Warring States period (403 B.C. to 221 B.C.) through analysis of ancient text such as the Zuo Commentary左傳, the Xunzi荀子, the Han Feizi韓非子 etc. The paper attributes the rise of the shi in the Warring States period to the unprecedentedly conducive social environment, self-definition and ability of the shi and their promotion of a vision of a ruler-centric state. Most importantly, this paper demonstrates how the dominating voices of the shi on the subject of interpreting the Way (Dao道)were sharply contrasted by the silence of other people’s discussion on the topic. Silence of social groups other than the shi assured the shi of their monopolization of the interpretation of the Way, which allowed the shi to travel from state to state, court to court, to promote their theories of ideal way of governing, and contributed substantially to their obtainment of political power in the Warring States period.

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