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The World of Everyday Political Thought: A Transcultural History of a ‘Chinese’ Rhetorical Curriculum, ca. 1200-1600
11. July 2022, 13:00 - 14:30
Speaker: Shoufu Yi (University of British Columbia)
On Campus: Hörsaal 1.201, Waldweg
On Zoom: The digital participation at this event is open to everyone who registers prior to the event: Registration
This talk has two goals. First, it develops a new approach to the studies of political theory and philosophy, one that I call everyday political thought. This approach invites us to explore how ordinary individuals were able to come up with remarkable ideas despite the fact that they were living under and working within different forms of oppressive powers. Second, employing everyday political thought as method, I provide a new narrative of the history of early modern political thought by excavating a rhetorical curriculum that flourished in East Eurasia. This rhetorical curriculum trained individuals to write official documents in literary Sinitic, a lingua franca of the regions. I use documents in Chinese, Mongolian, Manchu, and Persian, among other languages, to reconstruct how the curriculum took its shape under Mongol-ruled China, flourished in post-Mongol East Eurasia, until it was finally restructured under the Manchu Empire. Practicing both close and distant readings of a large number of previously untapped sources that have survived in different parts of the world, I show that this form of education enabled individuals thus trained to philosophize the state, bureaucracy, and counterfactual histories in their everyday settings. In sum, this talk seeks to demonstrate how new method and toolkits, combined with large corpora of overlooked materials, will allow us to write new kinds of intellectual histories that decenters Western Europe and China while foregrounding the theoretical contributions of “everyday” thinkers of different locals and traditions.