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Posted by: mchu 7 years, 2 months ago


Team members Hilde De Weerdt, Julius Morche and Chu Ming-kin participated in the “International Medieval Congress” at Leeds University, July 7-10, 2014. Ming-kin organized the panel “Communication in the Mongol Empire” which addressed questions relating to indigenous elites and their Mongol overlords across Eurasia in a comparative perspective. In his paper “Indigenous Elite Networks and Mongol Governance in 13th-century North China”, Ming-kin reconstructed the epistolary network of Han literati in the Jin-Yuan transition and showed how part of the literati network was transformed into an indigenous network of political elites after 1260, which in turn contributed to Mongol governance and administration in north China. Speaking on the same panel, Florence Hodous (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) showed how Persian elites and qadis in the Ilkhanate negotiated their simultaneous allegiance to Islamic law and Mongol rule.

Participants in the panel “Imperial Elites in Comparative Perspective, 800-1600” organized by Julius Morche, discussed the social significance and political roles of elites in imperial entities on the basis of case studies from China, the Byzantine Empire, and Western Europe for the purpose of generating general typologies of imperial entities and their elite societies. In his paper “Mapping Monastic Networks? Communication and Solidarity in 12th-century Religious Elites in the Latin West,” Julian P. Haseldine (University of Hull) discussed friendship in monastic correspondence. In his paper “Chinese Bureaucratic Elites, Their Social Networks, and the Geography of Power across the Tang-Song Transition”, Nicolas Tackett (University of California, Berkeley) made use of prosopographic and GIS data to measure the degree of “localism”, highlighting the changing patterns of elite networks and the geographical distribution of political power in response to the relative decline of capital-oriented aristocratic elites and the widening  geographical spread of elite circles during the Tang-Song transition. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Austrian Academy of the Sciences) applied social network analysis to measure varying degrees of political significance of the Byzantine Skleroi family in the late tenth century and argued that network theory can provide a tangible analytical framework for comparing the emergence, dynamics and internal conflicts of elite societies in pre-modern empires.
On July 10, both Hilde and Julius spoke on the panel “Universal Empire, the Middle Ages, and World History”, which was intended to reflect on the analytical framework devised in Peter Bang’s edited volume Universal empire: a comparative approach to imperial culture and represent. The panel explored whether “universal empire” can be adopted as a common framework for a global history of medieval and pre-industrial societies, and Peter Bang himself suggested to map the medieval European world within a wider history of universal empires covering much of Eurasia across large time horizons. Hilde discussed the extent to which such a framework is applicable to the historical development in pre-modern China and argued that China, similar to other pre-modern empires across Eurasia, had a shared vision of imperial rule and experienced three moments of unification in 221 B.C.E., 589 and 1279. Julius evaluated the model in the context of the Venetian experience and suggested that the historiography of empire should also include non-universalist empires.




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