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Center for Chinese Studies: "Father and Mother of the People: Thinking Through Ming Bureaucratic Paternalism"
By Ming times, personal relations had long reasserted themselves within the bureaucratic structure that Qin had originally designed to make officials mere cogs in a machine, dependent on the emperor alone. In this talk, which grows out of my current research on shrines to living officials, I will focus not on the corruption and factionalism so salient in scholarship but on the rhetoric describing and idealizing the relation of local subjects to the magistrates and prefects set above them. The parental metaphor for this relationship, apparently a straightforward requirement to nourish and to obey, takes some surprising twists and turns as the writers of commemorative steles for pre-mortem shrines expand on it.