• “’I Write, Therefore I Am’: Scribes, Literacy and Identity in Early China."

    Author(s):
    Armin Selbitschka (see profile)
    Date:
    2018
    Subject(s):
    Early China, Funerary practices, Identity, Literacy studies, Manuscript cultures, Mortuary ritual, Social anthropology
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Archaeological Methods
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/e0s6-rp33
    Abstract:
    A recent article argued that “texts can be used as tools for enacting identities in social settings” (Reading Research Quarterly 44.4 (2009): 416). Considering the multitude of manuscripts yielded by fourth through first-centuries BCE burials, such a statement seems pertinent for early Chinese society as well. What does it say about the self-concept of an individual when his ability to write and / or read assumed a prominent role in funerary rites? This paper analyzes evidence of literacy that may be found in Chinese textual sources (received and archaeological) and tombs by applying identity concepts developed in anthropology and the social sciences to Chinese funerary data. It not only argues that the actual ability to write is palpable through certain kinds of texts that were associated with writing paraphernalia, but that literacy in particular was a crucial aspect of the self-representation of a particular group of people, namely the shǐ 史 (“scribes”).
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 weeks ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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