The Mechanics of Cultural Change in China in a Period of Disunity
Situated at the epicenter of the “Tang-Song Transition,” the tenth-century interregnum between the Tang and Song dynasties was a period of rapid change. This talk will focus on the dramatic evolution of Chinese political culture, as reflected in new political ideals, new ideas of Chinese space, and a new elite sense of identity. What underlying mechanisms account for these developments? Datasets and examples taken from an on-going book project suggest that cultural change was spurred by the particularities of the tenth century as a period of disunity. Although Chinese civilization has evolved continuously throughout its long history, change during periods of disunity was driven by distinct causative factors, which included political instability, inter-regime competition, elite migrations, not to mention the process of reunification itself.
Nicolas Tackett (B.S., Stanford University; Ph.D., Columbia University) is Professor of History at U.C. Berkeley. He is the author of two books. The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (2014) examines how a network of powerful families survived at the pinnacle of political power for centuries only to disappear into oblivion suddenly and completely at the turn of the 10th c. The Origins of the Chinese Nation (2017) argues that a national consciousness emerged in China in the eleventh century (i.e., much earlier than typically assumed), and explores how this new consciousness was a product of the diplomatic environment of 11th-c. Northeast Asia.