The internal dynamics driving the relationship between the state and local society during the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties has both captivated and baffled scholars. In this book, Sukhee Lee posits an alternative understanding of the relationship between the state and social elites in the middle period of Chinese imperial history. Directly challenging the assumption of a zero-sum competition between the power of the state and that of local elites, Negotiated Power shows in vivid detail how state power and local elite interests were mutually constitutive and reinforcing. It was precisely the connectedness of social elites to the state, as well as the presence of the state in local life, that was essential to the rise of a self-conscious local elite society during this period. In probing the historical trajectory of Mingzhou prefecture (today’s Ningbo), Lee makes extensive use of local gazetteers from the Southern Song and the Yuan dynasties, and the abundant literary collections that still survive from this area, including some 280 epitaphs written for Mingzhou people of the time.
Sukhee Lee is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.