International Affairs Building (Room 918), Columbia University, 420 West 118th Street, New York
This workshop examines the variegated forms of knowledge production that occurred from the end of the Qing until the PRC period in China. This period has long been characterized as a period of chaos and transition. In 1905, the civil service examination system, the bureaucratic mechanism that had long tethered educated elites to the bureaucracy, was fully dismantled and state privileging of the Confucian canon and its moral text-based knowledge came to an abrupt end. The political and intellectual disenfranchisement of educated Chinese men only deepened with the fall of the empire in 1911. The goals of the 1911 revolution – including the establishment of a legitimate constitution and parliamentary government – proved elusive and by the late 1910s, internecine warfare engulfed China and effectively crippled the central government. With such a weak political center, imperialist powers such as Japan were emboldened to deepen their penetration into China. Yet, if chaotic and weak from the perspective of politics, this period was one of opportunity from the perspective of the history of knowledge production. With Confucian orthodoxy and traditional arbiters of culture discredited, this period saw lettered and professional identities undergo transition, and regimes of knowledge and intellectual and cultural endeavors in flux. Such conditions ushered in an era of experimentation with alternative forms of knowledge about how to organize not just society and politics, but also the natural world that was to last throughout the Republican era and into the PRC period.
This workshop will be bilingual, with papers presented in both English and Chinese. It is free and open to the public; no registration required. Please visit the event website for more details.