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Conférence - Garret Olberding : Spiritual Sovereignty : Designing Strategic Borders in Early China

Vendredi 11 décembre 2015 10h30

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Spiritual Sovereignty : Designing Strategic Borders in Early China

M. Garret Olberding Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma

Communication donnée dans le cadre du programme : Individus, groupes humains et société dans le haut Moyen Âge chinois (220-617)

Lieu et date :

Vendredi 11 décembre 2015 à 10h30

Salle Claude Lévi-Strauss, rez-de-chaussée de l’IHEC (52 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, Paris 5e)


Specialists of early China often seem to attempt to define state borders in a modern mode, as martially defended lines. Yet early Chinese borders were not so clear-cut as the construction of walls might suggest. In this talk, I will contend that the notion of boundary “lines” is anachronistic, a notion generally inappropriate to early polities. I argue that early Chinese state boundaries, frequently demarcated by artificial and natural obstacles to movement—whether walls, mountains, or other hindrances—should more crucially be treated as symbolic, projecting ritual, moral, and even administrative influence, not simply toward the interior but also beyond their positions, into the outer regions. In light of this, I reconsider the possible administrative efficacy of early Chinese notions of sovereignty, such as de 德, and suggest that sovereignty extends efficaciously and deeply beyond any martial line. This re-evaluation of the sovereign boundary could have manifold consequences for how the Chinese domain should be constructed, both conceptually and physically, and its various powers analyzed.

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