The Secret and the Sacred: The State and its Alternatives in Chinese Societies



Is there any space left for alternatives other than an enduring and powerful state in historical and contemporary China? What are those alternatives? How do these alternatives interact with the state? Who occupies these alternative spaces and what kind of culture do they produce?

This workshop brings together interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches to shed light on these questions. Presentations will be made by scholars and graduate students from a variety of academic discipline within the humanities and social sciences, with different regional and historical emphases, but all the discussions will focus on the secret and the sacred in historical and contemporary China. Here “secret” refers to issues that are hidden behind the grand narrative about Chinese culture and society, and “sacred” refers to the value certain groups of people ascribe to these alternative worlds. The interactive relationship between these issues and “China” the state will be emphasized.

Keynote speakers:
Professor Robert P. Weller (Anthropology, Boston University)
Professor TJ Hinrichs (History, Cornell University)



Day 1: Monday, March 28, 2:00-5:30 pm

2:00-2:30 pm Opening Remarks
You-tien Hsing (Geography, UC Berkeley)

2:30-4:00 pm Panel 1: Secret Knowledge
Matt Wild (EALC, UC Berkeley)
Curating the Wake: Contested Memories of Huang Zhongze (1749-1783)

Xiangjun Feng (EALC, UC Berkeley)
Can Rivers and Lakes Speak? Print Culture and the Production of Secret Knowledge in Republican China

Yanshuo Zhang (EALC, Stanford University)
From Guardians of National Culture to Entrepreneurs of the Past: The Construction of Contemporary Qiang Ethnic Identity

Discussant: Sophie Volpp (EALC & Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley)

4:00-4:15 pm Coffee & Refreshments

4:15-5:30 pm Keynote Speech I
TJ Hinrichs (History, Cornell University)
Secret Formulae, Biopolitics, and Su Dongpo

Day 2: Tuesday, March 29, 10:00 am-5:00 pm

10:00-10:30 am Coffee and registration

10:30 am-12:00 pm Panel 2: The Construction and Destruction of the Sacred
Shaoda Wang (Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley)
Buddha’s Grace Illuminates All: Temple Destruction, School Construction, and Modernization in Twentieth Century China

Jon Soriano (History of Art, UC Berkeley)
Qianlong's Wheel: Another View of the Emperor as Bodhisattva Painting

An Pham, (Religious Studies & East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, UC Santa Barbara)
The Influence of Buddhist Television as Alternative Space to Commercial Mass Media in Taiwan

Discussant: Keping Wu (Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University)

12:00-1:00 pm Lunch Break

1:00-2:30 pm Panel 3: Altered States
Trenton Wilson (History, UC Berkeley)
Kongzi as Dissident: Gongyang Studies in the Han Dynasty and Twentieth Century China

Lu Kou (EALC, Harvard University)
Negotiating Legitimacy and Power: Diplomatic Envoys in the Six Dynasties and Their Poetry

Jonathan Tang (History, UC Berkeley)
Provincial and Local Governance in Early Republican Hunan

Discussant: Jesse Chapman (Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University)

2:30-2:45 pm Coffee & Refreshments

2:45-4:00 pm Keynote Speech II
Robert Weller (Anthropology, Boston University)
The Silent and the Spoken: Exile, Death, and the Anthropology of the Unknowable

4:00-5:00 pm Panelist Roundtable and Concluding Remarks

Click here to download a copy of the agenda.



Keynote Speakers
Robert Weller
Professor of Anthropology, Boston University

TJ Hinrichs
Associate Professor of History, Cornell University

Opening Remarks
You-tien Hsing
Professor of Geography, Pamela P. Fong and Family Distinguished Chair in China Studies, Chair of Center for Chinese Studies, UC Berkeley

Faculty Sponsor
Andrew Jones
Professor and Louis B. Agassiz Chair in Chinese, UC Berkeley

Sophie Volpp
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature & East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Keping Wu
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University

Jesse Chapman
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University

Matt Wild
PhD student, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Xiangjun Feng
PhD student, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley

Yanshuo Zhang
PhD candidate, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University

Shaoda Wang
PhD student, Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley

Jon Soriano
PhD student, History of Art, UC Berkeley

An Pham
PhD candidate, Religious Studies & East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Trenton Wilson
PhD student, History, UC Berkeley

Lu Kou
PhD candidate, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Jonathan Tang
PhD candidate, History, UC Berkeley



"The Secret and the Sacred: The State and its Alternatives in Chinese Societies" will be at the Institute of East Asian Studies, which is located on the fifth floor of 1995 University Avenue — two blocks west of the University Avenue entrance to campus at the intersection of Milvia Street and University Avenue. The building is three blocks from BART and also has a public parking garage which is accessed off Bonita Street.

Directions to the Berkeley campus

If traveling by BART, exit the Richmond-Fremont line at the Berkeley station (not North Berkeley). If going to the campus, walk east up Center Street (towards the hills) one block to the edge of campus. If going to IEAS, walk two blocks north to University Avenue, then one block west (away from the hills) to 1995 University Avenue.

From Interstate 80

To reach the campus by car from Interstate 80, exit at the University Avenue off-ramp in Berkeley. Take University Avenue east (toward the hills) approximately two miles until you reach the campus.

From Highways 24/13

To reach the campus from Highways 24/13, exit 13 at Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Continue on Tunnel Road as it becomes Ashby. Turn right at College Avenue and drive approximately one mile north to Bancroft Way.

Directions to the campus are also available at www.berkeley.edu/ visitors/ traveling.html


There are various public parking lots and facilities near campus and in downtown Berkeley. This list includes municipal and privately owned parking lots and garages open to the public. Please consult signs for hours and fees prior to entering the facilities.

More information is available on the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation page.