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Saturday, October 17, 2015

[Dissertation] In the Government's Service: A Study of the Role and Practice of Early China's Officials Based on Excavated Manuscripts

Author:
Sou, Daniel S. (徐誠彬)

School:
University of Pennsylvania

Advisor:
Goldin, Paul R.

Department:
East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Year:
2013

Abstract:
The aim of this dissertation is to examine the practices of local officials serving in the Chu and Qin centralized governments during the late Warring States period, with particular interest in relevant excavated texts. The recent discoveries of Warring States slips have provided scholars with new information about how local offices operated and functioned as a crucial organ of the centralized state. Among the many excavated texts, I mainly focus on those found in Baoshan 包山, Shuihudi 睡虎地, Fangmatan 放馬灘, Liye 里耶, and the one held by the Yuelu Academy 岳麓書院.

Much attention is given to the function of districts and their officials in the Chu and Qin governments as they supervised and operated as a base unit: deciding judicial matters, managing governmental materials and products, and controlling the population, who were the source of military and labor service. Administrative law was the main device for managing officials, but Qin daybooks suggest that mantic texts were used as a political device to support governmental daily activities. Additionally, I argue that the Qin government systematically required its officials to internalize certain values that restricted and guided their mindset and activities on behalf of the government.

By focusing on excavated materials, I demonstrate that local offices, especially the district, served as a core organ in sustaining the entire local government and channeling the central authority. I conclude that only in understanding the role of local government we are able to draw the entire picture of the ruler-centered state that emerged and developed during the Warring States period.

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