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Cooperation and Tension: Revisiting Local Activism in the Southern Song Dynasty

From: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
Volume 73, Number 1, June 2013
pp. 43-82 | 10.1353/jas.2013.0005



Sukhee Lee takes as his point of departure a conundrum: although the local elites of Mingzhou prefecture won glowing praise for their role in building community solidarity, the financial support for their activities actually often came from the state. Because Mingzhou local activism was clearly not a response to a retreating state, Lee focuses on the complex interplay between the state and local elites, especially by examining their sponsorship of official schools, the community drinking ceremony, charitable estates, and the charitable service. He demonstrates that the state and local elites had convergent interests, but he also shows that they differed both in their commitment to local projects and in their visions of elite social responsibility. Two contending but complementary visions, rather than the complete triumph of one over the other, was vital to the success of the local activism of Mingzhou.

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