This talk is co-sponsored by Rutgers Global. It is open to the public.
This talk argues that while the promotion of Daoism was a national policy of the Ming (1368-1644) court, the activities and maintenance of local Daoist institutions were the result of royal support from the Ming princes enfeoffed in provinces. Although they were barred from any serious political or military engagement due to the fanjin 藩禁 (“restrictions towards princes”) system, the Ming princes were ex officio managers of state rituals at the local level, with Daoist priests as key performers, and for this reason they became very closely involved in Daoist clerical and liturgical life. In addition, as the regional overlords, the Ming princes like other local elites saw financing and organizing temple affairs and rituals, patronizing Daoist priests, or collecting and producing Daoist books as a chance to maintain their influence and show off their power locally. The prosperity of Daoist institutions, which attracted many worshippers, also demonstrated the princes’ political success. In presenting the role the Ming princes played in local religion, the lecture shows that the princedom served to mediate between the official religious policy and the commoners’ interests.
Richard G. Wang received his PhD from the University of Chicago. He is Professor of Chinese Studies and Religious Studies at the University of Florida. His research focuses on Daoism, Chinese fiction, and religion and Chinese literature of late imperial China, in particular the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). He is currently exploring the Daoism and local society in the Ming as well as the religious dimensions of Ming novels. He has published the following books: Lineages Embedded in Temple Networks: Daoism and Local Society in Ming China (Harvard UP); The Ming Prince and Daoism: Institutional Patronage of an Elite (Oxford UP); (co-ed. with Li Tiangang) Religion and State in Local Society in Late Imperial and Modern China (in Chinese; Fudan UP); The Ming Erotic Novella: Genre, Consumption, and Religiosity in Cultural Practice (Chinese UP); (collated and ed.) Maoshan zhi (The Gazetteer of Mount Mao; Shanghai Chinese Classics Press); and The Romantic Sentiment and the Religious Spirit: The Late Ming Literature and the Intellectual Currents (in Chinese; Cosmos Books).