China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper examines the process of enshrining Wang Fuzhi (1619-1692), a nationalist and philosopher from Hunan, in the Confucian Temples and the revival of Wang’s thoughts against the backdrop of the rise of Hunan scholar-officials’ construction of the regional culture in the late Qing period. Previous scholarship has offered many discussions on the process of the enshrinement of Wang, however, the study on the significance of Wang’s political thoughts in the construction of Hunan regional culture and late Qing political climate has been relatively scarce.
This paper analyzes Hunan scholars’ and the Qing imperial court’s records of the debates on the enshrinement of Wang. Among them, Sanru Congsi Lu (The Records of the Enshrinement of Three Confucian Scholars) provides the most detailed account of the debates in the Qing court.
My readings of these texts demonstrate that the petition to enshrine Wang in the Confucius Temple is part of Hunan scholar-officials’ endeavor of constructing their regional identity and culture. The Qing Court’s granting of the petition after repeated rejections reveals its attempt to transform the empire into a constitutional monarchy. While by contrast, at the same time, Zhang Taiyan (1869-1936), a revolutionary who regarded Hunan as his second hometown, ridiculed the act of petition in his attempt to appropriate Wang’s thoughts for the anti-Manchu revolution. Therefore, those debates on the enshrinement of Wang Fuzhi contributed to both constitutional reform and anti-Manchu revolution during the late Qing as sources showing the ideological divide between the Manchu court and the anti-Manchu revolutionaries.