Organized Panel Session
Pre-modern social networks are difficult to study. The source materials are usually fragmentary, linkages between individuals are difficult to trace and verify, and the impact of these networks are hard to assess in isolated cases. In the case of East Asian societies, genealogical records became a treasured source of information because they are often rich with details and readily available. Useful as they are, genealogies are also flawed in a number of ways, among which are the patrilineal nature of their information presentation and the emphasis of their ideological foundation.
This panel addresses these two issues in the context of Chosŏn Korea and Qing China. It challenges existing narratives about the nature of the social linkages shown through previous genealogical studies, and proposes new ways of defining and examining the social networks in question. Javier Cha’s analysis of genealogical data from the Chosŏn period through new visualization methods opens a new way for scholars to examine genealogical data. Hu Jing’s study of the chungin in Chosŏn Korea revisits the role of this group and its network linkages with the yangban above them. Shengyu Yang’s study of the Gu family in late Qing China shows the reason and strategy for how a family attempted to transition from one sort of elite to another. Lawrence Zhang’s work looks at marriage alliances between nationally prominent late Qing elites and the significance of these network connections in status preservation strategies.