The Chinese History Podcast
Wang Yangming and the School of Mind: An Interview with Professor George L. Israel

Wang Yangming and the School of Mind: An Interview with Professor George L. Israel

May 1, 2022

Wang Yangming 王陽明 (born Wang Shouren 王守仁, 1472-1529) is one of the most famous pre-modern Chinese intellectuals and the founder of the School of Mind (心學) of Neo-Confucianism, which was hugely influential in the later half of the Ming Dynasty. In addition to being philosopher, he was also an accomplished statesman, military leader, and calligrapher. In this episode, we speak with Professor George L. Israel, an expert on the study of Wang Yangming, who will introduce us to Wang's life and career, his thoughts and tenants, and his reception in the Ming and the Qing, as well as in neighboring Korea and Japan, and how Wang is viewed in China today.

We apologize for some audio issues with this recording.

Contributors

Professor George L. Israel

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Professor George L. Israel is a Professor of History at Middle Georgia State University. His research is primarily on Ming intellectual history and Neo-Confucianism, with a particular focus on the famous Ming Neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming, and he has published extensively about that subject in both English and Chinese.  

Yiming Ha

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Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Credits

Episode no. 11

Release date: May 1, 2022

Recording location: Los Angeles, CA/Macon, GA

Transcript

Bibliography courtesy of Professor Israel

Images

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Cover Image: An official portrait of Wang Yangming (Image Source)

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Grand Hall of Wang Yangming's former residence in Shaoxing (Image Source)

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Wang Yangming's tomb at Shaoxing (Image Source)

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A copy of Wang Yangming's calligraphy, currently held at Princeton University (Image Source)

References

Bresciani, Umberto. Reinventing Confucianism: The New Confucian Movement. Taipei: Taipei Ricci Institute, 2001.

Ching, Julia. The Records of Ming Scholars. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987.

Chow, Kai-wing. The Rise of Confucian Ritualism in Late Imperial China: Ethics, Classics, and Lineage Discourse. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.

Chung, So-yi. “Korean Yangming Learning.” In Dao Companion to Korean Confucian Philosophy, 253-284. Edited by Young-chan Ro. Springer, 2019.

Israel, George L. Studying Wang Yangming: History of a Sinological Field. Kindle Direct Publishing, 2022.

____. “The Renaissance of Wang Yangming Studies in the People’s Republic of China.” Philosophy East and West 66, no. 3 (Jul. 2019): 1001-1019.

Jiao Kun 焦堃. Yangming xinxue yu Mingdai neige zhengzhi 陽明心學與明代内閣政治 (The Yangming school of mind and the politics of the grand secretariat during the Ming dynasty). Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 2021.

Ogyū Shigehiro 荻生茂博. “The Construction of ‘Modern Yōmeigaku’ in Meiji Japan and Its Impact on China.” Translated, with an introduction, by Barry D. Steben. East Asian History no. 20 (December 2000): 83–120.

Qian Ming 錢明. Wang Yangming ji qi xuepai lun kao 王陽明及其學派論考 (Verification of theories of Wang Yangming and his school of thought). Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 2009.

Zhang Kunjiang 張崑將. Yangmingxue zai dongya: quanshi, jiaoliu yu xingdong 陽明學在東亞:詮釋, 交流與行動 (Yangming learning in East Asia: interpretation, exchange, and action). Taipei: Guoli Taiwan Daxue Chuban Zhongxin, 2011.

 

New Narratives on the Late Ming Military: An Interview with Professor Kenneth Swope

New Narratives on the Late Ming Military: An Interview with Professor Kenneth Swope

January 29, 2022

For a long time, Ray Huang's influential book 1587: A Year of No Significance has colored our imagination of the Late Ming, painting the Ming as a state that was stagnant and in decline. Traditional historiography usually focuses on the poor finances of the Ming state, its inability to pay troops, its poor military performance against the peasant rebels and the Manchus, and its factionalism. While all these are true to an extent, more recent scholarships have also uncovered another side to the late Ming - one of military success and military innovation. Professor Kenneth Swope, an expert on Ming military history and author of numerous monographs and articles on the topic, joins us to talk about these new narratives of the late Ming's successes and failures.

Contributors

Professor Kenneth Swope

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Professor Kenneth Swope is a Professor of History & Senior Fellow of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi. He is an expert on Chinese military history, particularly Ming military history and has published numerous monographs, articles, and book chapters on the topic. His major publications include A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598, The Military Collapse of China’s Ming Dynasty, 1618-1644, and On the Trail of the Yellow Tiger: War, Trauma, and Social Dislocation in Southwest China During the Ming-Qing Transition. In addition, he serves as the book review editor for The Journal of Chinese Military History and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Chinese Military History Society.

Yiming Ha

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Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Credits

Episode no. 7

Release date: January 29, 2022

Recording location: Hattiesburg, MS/ Los Angeles, CA

Transcript

Bibliography courtesy of Professor Swope

Images:

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Cover Image: Battle of Sarhu, 1619. Note the use of gunpowder weapons. (Image Source)

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Battle of Liaoyang, 1621. Note the use of gunpowder weapons. (Image Provided by Professor Swope)

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Gate at Shanhai Pass (Photograph by Professor Swope)

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Ming rocket-propelled arrows and launching tube and cart, from the Wubei zhi (for more images of Ming gunpowder weapons, see here)

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A type of Ming warship from the Chouhai tubian, note the gunner operating a cannon on the lower deck.

References

Andrade, Tonio. Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Fan Shuzhi 樊樹志. Wan Ming shi 晚明史 2 vols. Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, 2015.

-----.  Wanli zhuan 萬歷傳. Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2020.

Parsons, James B.  Peasant Rebellions of the Late Ming Dynasty. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 1993.

Struve, Lynn A.  The Southern Ming, 1644-1662. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.

Swope, Kenneth M.  On the Trail of the Yellow Tiger: War, Trauma, and Social Dislocation in Southwest China during the Ming-Qing Transition. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.

-----.  The Military Collapse of China’s Ming Dynasty. London: Routledge, 2014.

-----.  A Dragon’s Head & a Serpent’s Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009.

Wakeman, Jr., Frederic W.  The Great Enterprise. 2 Vols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

The Tributary System and Chosŏn-Ming Relations: A Conversation with Professor Sixiang Wang

The Tributary System and Chosŏn-Ming Relations: A Conversation with Professor Sixiang Wang

December 12, 2021

In our previous episodes, the term "tributary system" has come up a few times, yet we've never had the opportunity to explain what exactly it is. To better shed light on this topic, and as part of our exploration of Chinese diplomacy, we interviewed Professor Sixiang Wang, an Assistant Professor of Korean history at UCLA who specializes in the diplomatic relationship between Chosŏn Korea and Ming China and Early Modern East Asia. In this episode, Professor Wang will first explain what the tributary system is as a historiographical concept and how it is often used to view China's diplomatic engagement with the outside world, before giving us a more detailed look into the diplomacy between Chosŏn and Ming and how this diplomatic interaction complicates the simple narrative of the tributary system.

P.S. Don't forget to check out this awesome podcast on the steppe nomads at Nomads and Empires!

Contributors

Sixiang Wang

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Sixiang Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He is a historian of Chosŏn Korea and early modern East Asia, and his research interests also include comparative perspectives on early modern empire, the history of science and knowledge, and issues of language and writing in Korea’s cultural and political history. His current book project reconstructs the cultural strategies that the Korean court deployed in its interactions with Ming China through an examination of poetry-writing, gift-giving, diplomatic ceremony, and historiography, and it underscores the centrality of ritual and literary practices in producing diplomatic norms, political concepts, and ideals of sovereignty in the construction of a shared, regional interstate order.

Yiming Ha

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Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Credits

Episode No. 4

Release date: December 12, 2021

Recording location: Los Angeles, CA

Transcript

Bibliography courtesy of Professor Sixiang Wang

Images

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Cover Image: "Myŏngnyun Hall" 明倫堂, Hanging board with calligraphy by the 1606 Ming envoy Zhu Zhifan 朱之蕃, Sunggyun'gwan University (photographed by Prof. Sixiang Wang)

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Chosŏn Envoys Traveling to Ming China by Sea, by Yi Tŏkhyŏng. It details an envoy mission which travelled to Ming China in 1624. One of a set of 25 paintings, currently held in the National Museum of Korea and reproduced with permission here (Image Source)

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Reception of Ming envoys, unknown painter, currently held in the National Museum of Korea and reproduced with permission here (Image Source)

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Collection of Poems by a Ming Envoy and the Scholars of the Chosŏn Dynasty. A collection of poetic exchange by the 15th century Ming envoy Ni Qian 倪謙 and three Korean scholars, currently held in the National Museum of Korea (Image Source)

Select Bibliography

Bohnet, Adam. Turning Toward Edification: Foreigners in Chosŏn Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2020.
 
Cha, Hyewon. “Was Joseon a Model or an Exception? Reconsidering the Tributary Relations during Ming China.” Korea Journal 51, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 33–58.
 
Fairbank, John King. The Chinese World Order: Traditional China's Foreign Relations. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968.
 
Fairbank, John King and S. Y. Teng. "On the Ch'ing Tributary System." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 6 (1941): 135-246.
Jung Donghun. “From a Lord to a Bureaucrat – the Change of Koryŏ King’s Status in the Korea-China Relations.” The Review of Korean Studies 19, no. 2 (December 2016): 115–36.
 
Kang, David. East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.
 
Robinson, David M. “The Ming Court and the Legacy of the Yuan Mongols.” In Culture, Courtiers, and Competition : The Ming Court (1368-1644), edited by David M. Robinson, 365–422. Harvard East Asian Monographs 301. Cambridge, Mass.: Published by the Harvard University Asia Center: Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2008.
 
Robinson, Kenneth R. “Centering the King of Chosŏn.” The Journal of Asian Studies 59, no. 1 (2000): 33–54.
 
Van Lieu, Joshua. “Chosŏn-Qing Tributary Discourse: Transgression, Restoration, and Textual Performativity.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, no. 27 (June 2018): 79–112.
 
———. “The Tributary System and the Persistence of Late Victorian Knowledge.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 77, no. 1 (July 27, 2017): 73–92. https://doi.org/10.1353/jas.2017.0005.
 
Wang, Sixiang. “Chosŏn’s Office of Interpreters: The Apt Response and the Knowledge Culture of Diplomacy.” Journal for the History of Knowledge 1, no. 1 (December 17, 2020): 9. https://doi.org/10.5334/jhk.17.
 
———. “Compiling Diplomacy: Record-Keeping and Archival Practices in Chosŏn Korea.” Journal of Korean Studies 24, no. 2 (September 1, 2019): 255–88. https://doi.org/10.1215/07311613-7686588.
 
———. “Korean Eunuchs as Imperial Envoys: Relations with Chosŏn through the Zhengde Reign.” In The Ming World, edited by Kenneth Swope, 460–80. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, 2020.
 
———. “The Sounds of Our Country: Interpreters, Linguistic Knowledge and the Politics of Language in Early Chosŏn Korea (1392–1592).” In Rethinking East Asian Languages, Vernaculars, and Literacies, 1000–1919, edited by Benjamin A. Elman, 58–95. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2014.
 
New Perspectives on the Zheng He Voyages: A Conversation with Sean Cronan

New Perspectives on the Zheng He Voyages: A Conversation with Sean Cronan

November 25, 2021

In this episode, Sean talks about some of the new scholarships and perspectives on the famous Zheng He voyages. Zheng He is widely known to history as the eunuch admiral who led several large-scale voyages to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. For many Chinese, the story of Zheng He and his travels to the Indian Ocean (鄭和下西洋) is often seen as a symbol of China's friendship and diplomatic and commercial engagement with Southeast Asian, the Indian Ocean, and east African polities. For many in the West, Zheng He's voyages represent a period in time when China dominated the maritime world. But for both Chinese and Western audiences, the end of the voyages in the 1430s marked the end of China's engagement with the maritime world and is often viewed as the Ming's turn towards isolationism. However, new scholarships have emerged challenging this narrative. Sean discusses how these scholarships have led us to reevaluate the Zheng He voyages and what we can learn about the early Ming and early Ming diplomacy from them.

Disclaimer: We apologize for some of the audio issues in this episode. A few parts may sound a bit distorted.

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Contributors:

Sean Cronan

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Sean Cronan is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley. His work focuses on East and Southeast Asian diplomatic encounters from the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries, tracing the development of new shared diplomatic norms following the Mongol conquests of Eurasia, as well as how rulers and scholar-officials in the Ming (1368- 1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911) institutionalized and challenged these new norms. He explores how ideas of multipolarity, regime legitimacy, and the makeup of the interstate order came under debate throughout the Mongol Empire, Ming China, the Qing Empire, Chosŏn Korea, Dai Viet (Northern Vietnam), Japan, the Ayutthaya Kingdom of Thailand, the Pagan Kingdom of Burma, and beyond. He works with sources in Chinese (literary Sinitic), Japanese, Thai, Burmese, Manchu, and Dutch.

Yiming Ha

Yiming_2bdedh.jpeg

Yiming Ha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His current research is on military mobilization and state-building in China between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on how military institutions changed over time, how the state responded to these changes, the disconnect between the center and localities, and the broader implications that the military had on the state. His project highlights in particular the role of the Mongol Yuan in introducing an alternative form of military mobilization that radically transformed the Chinese state. He is also interested in military history, nomadic history, comparative Eurasian state-building, and the history of maritime interactions in early modern East Asia. He received his BA from UCLA and his MPhil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Credits

Episode No. 2

Release date: November 13, 2021

Recording location: Los Angeles/Berkeley, CA

Transcript

Bibliography courtesy of Sean and Yiming

Images

Cover Image: Statue of Zheng He in Malacca, Malaysia (Image Source)

A map of Zheng He's voyages (Image Source).

Zheng He's treasure ship vs. Columbus's ship. Photograph by Lars Plougmann (Image Source).

Another model of one of Zheng He's treasure ships. The Hong Kong Science Museum (Image Source).

Tribute Giraffe with Attendant 瑞應麒麟圖 (1414) by Shen Du (沈度, 1357–1434), currently held in the National Palace Museum in Taipei (Image Source).

Select Bibliography

Danjō Hiroshi 檀上寬. Mindai kaikin=chōkō shisutemu to Kai chitsujo 明代海禁=朝貢システムと華夷秩序  [The Ming Maritime Ban = The Tributary System and the Sino-Barbarian Order]. Kyōto: Kyōto Daigaku Gakujutsu Shuppankai, 2013.
 
Li, Kangying. The Ming Maritime Trade Policy in Transition, 1368 to 1567. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010.
 
Lo, Jung-pang. China as a Sea Power, 1127-1368: A Preliminary Survey of the Maritime Expansion and Naval Exploits of the Chinese People. Edited by Bruce A. Elleman. Singapore: NUS Press, 2012.
 
Sen, Tansen. "The Impact of Zheng He’s Expeditions on Indian Ocean Interactions." Bulletin of SOAS, 79, 3 (2016): 609-636
 
______. "Zheng He’s Military Interventions in South Asia, 1405–1433." China and Asia Vol. 1 (2019): 158-191.
 
Tsai, Henry Shih-shan. Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015.
 
Wade, Geoff. "The Zheng He Voyages: A Reassessment," Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 78, No. 1 (288) (2005): 37-58.
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