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Dry Spells: State Rainmaking and Local Governance in Late Imperial China Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke Harvard University Asia Center

31st May 2012 History Books 0 Comments

Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke is Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies at The College of Idaho.

Chinese officials put considerable effort into managing the fiscal and legal affairs of their jurisdictions, but they also devoted significant time and energy to performing religious rituals on behalf of the state. This groundbreaking study explores this underappreciated aspect of Chinese political life by investigating rainmaking activities organized or conducted by local officials in the Qing dynasty. Using a wide variety of primary sources, this study explains how and why state rainmaking became a prominent feature of the late imperial religious landscape. It also vividly describes the esoteric, spectacular, and occasionally grotesque techniques officials used to pray for rain. Charting the ways in which rainmaking performances were contested by local communities, this study argues that state rainmaking provided an important venue where the relationship between officials and their constituents was established and maintained. For this reason, the author concludes that official rainmaking was instrumental in constituting state power at the local level. This monograph addresses issues that are central to the study of late imperial Chinese society and culture, including the religious activities of Chinese officials, the nature of state orthodoxy, and the symbolic dimensions of local governance.

Dry Spells: State Rainmaking and Local Governance in Late Imperial China (Harvard East Asian Monographs)

Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433

‘This book is highly recommended to all thise who really want to know how to evaluate what Zheng He did or did not do. The author does not advocate a point of view or exhort us in any way.’ Wang Gungwu, East Asian Institute, Singapore

This new biography, part of Longmans World Biography series, of the Chinese explorer Zheng He sheds new light on one of the most important “what if” questions of early modern history: why a technically advanced China did not follow the same path of development as the major European powers.

Written by China scholar Edward L. Dreyer, Zheng He outlines what is known of the eunuch Zheng He’s life and describes and analyzes the early 15th century voyages on the basis of the Chinese evidence. Locating the voyages firmly within the context of early Ming history,itaddresses the political motives of Zheng He’s voyages and how they affected China’s exclusive attitude to the outside world in subsequent centuries.

Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the Early Ming Dynasty, 1405-1433 (Library of World Biography Series)

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