A Talk by Li Min, University of Michigan
Li Min's research on the eastern frontier of the Shang civilization in early China investigates how aspects of symbolic, social, and natural worlds converged in the making of the broader Shang world in the late second millennium B.C. While state conquest is often characterized by the imposition of hierarchical structure, Li's excavation at the site of Daxinzhuang also reveals complex interactions among multiple networks of power, including kinship, gender, religion, and cultural affiliation. Therefore, the process of "becoming Shang" can be best conceptualized as on-going tensions between the state's claim to supremacy and diverse local circumstances. The Shang kingship introduced new sumptuary rules and reconfigured ritual protocols, particularly in areas of intense state focus such as food ritual and religious communication. The conquest, however, did not succeed in erasing local practices and understandings. Independent access to sources of religious power introduced space for agency and social negotiation for local societies.
Li Min is a candidate for the East Asian Archaeology position in the UCLA Cotsen Institute.
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