Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian...


Book Details

Author  Liang Cai
Publisher  State University of New York Press
Publication Date   February 28, 2014
ISBN  143844849X
Pages  276

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Finalist for the 2015 Best First Book in the History of Religions presented by the American Academy of Religion

Winner of the 2014 Academic Excellence Award presented by Chinese Historians in the United States

When did Confucianism become the reigning political ideology of imperial China? A pervasive narrative holds it was during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty (141-87 BCE). In this book, Liang Cai maintains that such a date would have been too early and provides a new account of this transformation. A hidden narrative in Sima Qian's The Grand Scribe's Records (Shi ji) shows that Confucians were a powerless minority in the political realm of this period. Cai argues that the notorious witchcraft scandal of 91-87 BCE reshuffled the power structure of the Western Han bureaucracy and provided Confucians an opportune moment to seize power, evolve into a new elite class, and set the tenor of political discourse for centuries to come.

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