China Review International: Vol. 21, No. 2, 2014 Liang Cai. Witchcraft and the Rise of the First Confucian Empire. SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2014. xii, 276 pp. Hardcover $85.00, isbn 978-1-4384-4849-7. Paperback $27.95, isbn 978-1-4384-4850-3. Traditional Chinese accounts concerning the social and political history of group formation and group identity in early China typically paint pictures of emergent group solidarities structured around idealized conceptions of revolutionary founders. This is particularly so with respect to two of its dominant traditions, Confucianism and Daoism, at the very origins of which are placed Confucius and Laozi, respectively. Such accounts then depict their fledgling traditions as developing into multiple master-disciple lineages that went on to achieve ultimate institutional permanence within Chinese society. Over the course of the last many decades, a growing number of contemporary sinological scholars have demonstrated tangibly iconoclastic tendencies in their efforts to deconstruct these traditional accounts and their presentation of seamless genealogical continuity. Their work does this by exposing the formidable holes in those genealogies, compelling us to rethink everything we thought we knew about such histories (again, primarily with respect to the traditions of Daoism and Confucianism).
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 28, 2014