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Migration and native place in and after the Ming : the ancestral hometown and domicile of Li Dongyang (1447–1516) Takano, Minoru


This dissertation examines the long-term effects of the great population movements of the early Ming period (1368–1424) in China by studying the geocultural identity of internal migrants and their descendants. Such people, were affiliated with multiple places, administratively and socioculturally. It focuses on the representation of migration and its legacies in literary writings by the migrants’ descendants in mid-Ming (1425–1521), in particular the case of Li Dongyang (1447–1517), through both his own writing and posthumous commemoration of him in late imperial China (1368–1911). During the early Ming, at least one-sixth of the population migrated within the empire. Migrants and their descendants were registered and required to remain in their new domiciles. They were separated from their ancestral hometowns, which were nonetheless administratively and culturally significant, for example being recorded in civil service examination records. As the descendant of family of military migrants, Li held two different geographical identities: a person from his ancestral hometown of Chaling in modern-day Hunan province and a registered resident of Beijing. Although modern scholarship has treated Li as the leader of a “Chaling Literary School,” focusing on his connection with Chaling, I argue that he was more closely tied to Beijing. This dissertation shows that he treated these two “homes” differently and did not fully belong to either. While defining himself as a person of Chaling to acknowledge his familial roots, he expressed a personal attachment to Beijing as his place of birth, residence, and afterlife. This dissertation argues that this reflection of past migration should also be considered a significant feature of his literary works. After Li’s lifetime, the complexity of his geographical identity is reflected in his portrayal by different groups: Hunan officials in the capital regarded him as a person from their native home, whereas local Beijing literati thought of him as a neighbor in the past. Migrants and their descendants like Li has multiple geocultural identities that could be invoked to different ends, in their lifetimes and afterward.

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