Home > ASU International Conference on Culture and Power in China’s History

ASU International Conference on Culture and Power in China’s History

March 29-30, 2019
Life Sciences C-wing, Room 202

Participant List ~ last updated 10/12/18
DRAFT Schedule ~ last updated 9/26/18
Conference Scope & Presentation Outlines ~ last updated 9/26/18

Workshop Vision

Hoyt Tillman, ASU Professor

Political power was embedded in Chinese culture in extraordinarily intense and uniquely complex ways. For instance, Frederick Wakeman characterized the contested relationship between imperial rulers and their scholar-officials as “counterpoised collaborators.” The court and the social elite shared considerable interests in “parenting” the people, but Chinese elites nevertheless held diverse views and approaches to state ideology, cultural values, social norms, and state policies, etc. Even more than the landed aristocracy of Europe, educated Chinese men only governed, outside of their hometowns, after successfully passing the civil service examinations, which therefore placed more emphasis on a constructed and evolving cannon of cultural knowledge as the justification of power (and as a practical tool for its implementation). In contrast to the “divine right of kings” in Europe, rulers in China were held to the moral standard of Confucius’ “sage king” and to competency in at least employing “talent” to govern the empire, or else lose the “Mandate of Heaven.” In other words, intellectual contestations over culture and morality had real-life implications for evaluating and sometimes reforming political programs.

Today, rulers and public intellectuals in China continue to utilize and manipulate China’s traditions to shape the currency of cultural capital and its role in the realm of power. To enhance our grasp of the nuanced interactions between culture and power, we are planning a forum of selected international scholars to examine crucial cases or examples of the tensions between culture and power in China’s history. These individual case studies will serve as a basis for our collective effort to clarify this perineal issue of the relationship between culture and power in defining how Chinese people understood the social and natural order.


Individual papers will cover a wide range of topics and disciplines. For example, two papers address the issue of culture and power from the perspective of the history of science. Four additional papers center on modern China from the vantage point of intellectual and cultural history. The largest number of papers focus on the intellectual history of traditional China; however, several deal with culture and power through classical, ritual and religious studies. Other individual papers explore legal cases at the Manchu court, local society and administration during the Song, and the importance of calligraphy in projecting cultural authority and influence. See the conference schedule for specific topics and presenters.

Intended Outcome

First, selected research outcomes and revised papers from this ASU conference (along with a follow-up conference in China) should result in an edited book and/or a special issue of a journal. Second, although some of Tillman’s publications since the late 1970s sought to reflect on the question of the  power of culture in China’s history, this conference will challenge Tillman to concentrate on this issue of culture’s power more fully in his retirement from 43 years of service to ASU. 



ASU Travel Reimbursements

The 2019 Workshop is funded and administered through the Center for Biology and Society at Arizona State University.  If funded, the Center will pay your economy airfare and lodging directly to the providers. Please follow the guidelines below for reimbursement of your expenses. If you have any questions, please contact Jessica Ranney at Jessica.Ranney@asu.edu or her direct line at480-965-8927.


AFTER THE TRIP: In order for ASU to reimburse your airfare and/or ground transportation, you must complete a CBS Travel Reimbursement Form.  You must also submit receipts for all expenses. All receipts must have your name, the date of purchase and the last 4 of a credit card number. Please scan and email receipts to Jessica Ranney (Jessica.Ranney@asu.edu).



NOTE: ASU reimbursements will be in the form of a check issued 4 - 6 weeks after workshop completion.

BEFORE THE TRIP: For reimbursement purposes, participants in this workshop will be classified as Independent Contractors. Please fill out, sign, and email scans of the following documents to Jessica Ranney (Jessica.Ranney@asu.edu).

  1. Form W-8BEN
          A. Be sure to sign and date the bottom
  2. Alien Data Collection Form
          A. Pay special attention to Part 1
          B. If you are in J-1 non-student status and your visa was not sponsored by Arizona State University, you will also need to provide a letter from your sponsoring institution, specifically the person listed in Box 7 of your approved DS-2019
  3. Compliance Statement for Payments to Visitors in Business and Tourist Status
          A. This form is only required for visitors in B1/B2 or WB/WT status
          B. Fill out Visitor Information section. Sign and date under Statement of Visitor.
  4. Copy of your Passport, Visa and I-94 arrival/departure record. Reimbursements can NOT be processed without copies of all of these documents.

DURING THE TRIP: Be sure to keep your receipts for reimbursement. Also, you must print your I-94 arrival/departure record from the US Customs and Border protection website.  The I-94 document is required for your expense reimbursement request, and will not be available to print after your departure from the US.

AFTER THE TRIP: In order for ASU to reimburse your expenses, you must complete a CBS Travel Reimbursement Form.  You must also submit receipts for all expenses. All receipts must have your name, the date of purchase and the last 4 of a credit card number. Please scan and email receipts to Jessica Ranney (Jessica.Ranney@asu.edu).



ASU Map including hotel and workshop location.

Tempe, AZ 85287 Information

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Link to Tempe, AZ weather.

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Phone: 480.965.8927
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