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The Socialization of Neo-Confucianism in the Ming Dynasty and the Rewriting of Ancestor Stories: A Study on the Huang Clan of Xiangshan

Zewen WU (Fudan University)
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During the Jiajing period of the Ming Dynasty, Huang Zuo, a Confucian scholar in Guangdong Province, wrote many epitaphs and biographies for his ancestors by using his personal social network. When compiling the gazetteers of Guangzhou, Xiangshan County, and Guangdong Province, Huang inserted the texts about his ancestors. Those measures helped raise the social status of the Huang clan and showed the scholar's role in expanding clan power in the construction of regional social order. The imperial civil-service examination provided an institutional channel for Guangdong scholars to move up the social ladder and become gentry in the Ming Dynasty. The Huang clan in Xiangshan also rose in this way. The Huang clan in Xiangshan is a typical example of the socialization of Neo-Confucianism, and their success is the success of the socialization of Neo-Confucianism in Guangdong. Since the mid-Ming Dynasty, Neo-Confucianism had become the orthodoxy resource of Guangdong local elites. The socialization of Neo-Confucianism has been the mainline of social changes in Guangdong. Specifically, the rise of the elites who succeeded in imperial civil-service examination and the turn of the society to a focus on kinshipintegrated Guangdong into an organic and systematic regional community and firmly inserted Guangdong into the Ming empire.

Journal of History and Anthropology