China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel discusses the uses of Confucian ethics and rituals in the project of cultural creation on individual and societal levels. The revival of Confucianism in the last few decades has caught public attention internationally, and scholars have probed the degree to which twentieth and twenty-first century Confucianisms represent a genuinely continuous tradition. Fewer studies, however, have examined how Confucian rituals have been reconstructed to convey new social and political connections. The four papers of this panel explore several methodologies that highlight both the top-down and bottom-up constructions of contemporary Confucian rituals for cultural reconstruction. Treating filial piety as a cultural construct, Liang Cai explores the use of rituals to better accomplish filial piety in history and the present. Then bringing that story up to today, Yu Shen explores the use of classical texts and the revival of traditional education in Chinese primary-school education to rebuild a ritualized moral universe. Exploring tensions between change and continuity in schools, Margaret Tillman shows the ways that educational psychologists countered trends to critique the Civil Service Examination and Confucian ideology by positively evaluating that historical memory in order to justify the expansion and mechanization of testing in the early twentieth century. And from the perspective of media studies, Xiaoqing Diana Lin analyzes television programs on Chinese classics, such as the Three Character Classic and Disciple Rules on the CCTV program Lecture Room, to explore why the state opts to achieve social and political goals in the guise of Confucian rituals.