2001 Minutes

Ming Studies Evening Meeting, 9:00pm March 23, 2001, AAS Conference, Chicago, IL

The meeting was called to order by President Ken Hammond, and then turned over to the new president, Kim Besio.

  1. Ming Studies journal editor Katy Carlitz reported that the next issue of the journal is poised to go into production, and that the following issue is following closely behind.Katy called for Ming Studies members to communicate with Ken Hammond, book review editor, about the topics on which they are available to write reviews.Members expressed interest in article submissions that discuss larger paradigms and approaches to the different disciplines in the study of the Ming dynasty.
  2. Ted Farmer called for submissions of materials that could be published by Ming Studies. Submissions could include research monographs or research tools.
  3. Elections were held for new officers for Ming Studies. Martin Heijdra was nominated and elected at the new President-elect, a 2-year position from which he will proceed to become president. John Wills, Jr. and Katy Ryor were also nominated and elected to serve for two years as board members.
  4. Ted Farmer reiterated that Dietrich Schanz is preparing the Ming Studies directory, and called for all members to make sure that they have submitted the information forms so that they will be included in the directory. Ted noted that the directory has received a large number of submissions from all over the world. For those who have not received or completed this questionnaire, please fill out the attached form.
  5. Ted Farmer reminded members of the upcoming Ninth Ming History Conference that will be held in Xiamen, Fujian on August 25-30, 2001. This conference is held every two years in different parts of China. The conference is sponsored by the China Academy of Social Science and Xiamen University. The contact people are:CASS:Zhang Dexin, Modern Chinese History Institute of China Academy of Social Science (CASS), Beijing, 100006

    Wan Ming, History Institute, CASS, Beijing, 100732

    Wu Yanhong, History Institute, CASS, Beijing, 100732

    Xiamen University:

    Chen Zhiping, Dept. of History, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, 361005 PRC

    Chao Xiaohong, History Institute, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, 361005 PRC

  6. The Minglist email network was discussed. Members asked that anyone hearing of an upcoming conference post a notice on the list. It was also requested that members post a notice if they publish or find article on Ming topics in obscure journals or other sources.
  7. Kim Besio announced that Ming Studies were pleased to have special guests in attendance for the evening: Oki Yasushi from Tokyo University and Anne McLaren from the University of Melbourne.
  8. David Robinson gave a report on the Ming archival materials that have recently been published by Guangxi Normal University Press (Guangxi shifan daxue chubanshe). The catalog for this press has information on the 130 volumes (each volume around 500 pages) of materials from the First Historical Archives in Beijing and the Liaoning Provincial Archives. Most of the materials date from the last two reigns of the dynasty. David noted that some of the materials concern the official registers of military households, which comprised a substantial part of the population.
  9. Sarah Schneewind presented a request for a standardized format of citing gazetteers in books and articles on Ming topics. The problem is that the traditional alphabetical arrangement of gazetteer citations makes it difficult to quickly assess the general geographic parameters of a study, and that it would be much more efficient if gazetteers were cited in a standard format that was easy to read. She has posted her proposal to the Minglist and has called for comments.
  10. Upon the prior invitation of Ken Hammond, Soren Edgren outlined his proposal for the return of the original Yongle Dadian volumes held in American libraries to the People’s Republic of China. His argument was essentially that the publication of reprinted versions makes it unnecessary to hold these materials in this country and that returning them would be a significant gesture of goodwill.
  11. There was a discussion of Frederick Mote’s new book Imperial China, 900-1800 (Harvard, 1999), which began with presentations by Harriet Zurndorfer and Ted Farmer. There was widespread praise for the impressive scale of Mote’s undertaking, its scholarly breadth and its great readability. Comments included the following:The book is highly effective in dismantling the sino-centric model of East Asia, and that it presented a multi-ethnic history of the Chinese empire as a “hybridization of civilizations.” The book offers a useful vision of the Ming within this larger context. Ming sections included important discussions of border issues and the role of the military.Much of Mote’s Ming section was focussed upon a chronicle and analysis of the imperium, the ineptitude of latter emperors and the increasing “privatization” of the dynasty. His analysis takes on interesting ongoing questions about the character and role of the Hongwu and Yongle emperors, the significance of northern domination of the political order through the capital at Beijing, and the dynamics of elite support for a dysfunctional imperium. Some were critical of this imperial focus and felt that these chapters did not offer much that was new beyond the accounts in the Cambridge History volumes.

    There were different views on the utility of this volume. Many found it useful in preparing lectures and as a teaching guide. While its size and depth make it less useful to assign to undergraduates, many found it highly valuable reading for graduate students.

  12. Respectfully submitted,Peter Ditmanson, Secretary for the Society of Ming Studies

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