Sequence of power: ritual controversy over the Zhaomu sequence in imperial ancestral rites in Song China (960-1279)
This dissertation explores the history of ancestral rituals and the related political controversy in the Song China (960-1279). Considering the pivotal role played by ancestral rites in shaping Chinese identity and consciousness, this study contributes to a better understanding of how ancestral ritual has been politicized in Chinese history as a specific cultural apparatus to manipulate politics through theatrical performance and liturgical discussion. Through a contextual analysis of a variety of Song scholar-officials and their ritual writings, including memorials, private letters, and commentaries on the ritual Classics, this study demonstrates that Song ritual debates over the zhaomu 昭穆 sequence--that is, the positioning of ancestral temples and spirit tablets in ancestral temples with preparation for alternation or removal--differentiated scholar-officials into separate factions of revivalists, conventionalists and centrists. From a new perspective of ritual politics, this study reveals the discursiveness of the New Learning (xinxue新學) community and its profound influence on the Learning of the Way (Daoxue 道學) fellowship of the Southern Song (1127-1279). It examines the evolution of the New Learning fellowship as a dynamic process that involved internal tension and differentiation. Daoxue ritualism was a continuation of this process in partaking in the revivalist approach of ritual that was initiated by the New Learning circle. Nowadays, the proliferation of ritual and Classical studies crystallizes the revitalization of Confucianism and Confucian rituals in China. Taking zhaomu as a point of departure, this project provides a lens through which modern scholars can explore the persistent tension between knowledge and power by rethinking the modernization of ritual and ritual politics in contemporary China.