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Research Area(s)
China

Dewei Shen

Years in Fellowship:
2021-2022
Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University, 2021

My research interests lie at the intersection of historical archaeology and manuscript studies, with a focus on the social and cultural history of early Chinese society. I am currently revising my dissertation, entitled “The First Imperial Transition in China: A Microhistory of Jiangling (369–119 B.C.E.)” into a book manuscript. In the dissertation, I challenge the dominant dayitong (“great unification”) narrative in studies of the rise of early Chinese empires through a micro-scale investigation of the collapse and transformation of Jiangling—the former Chu capital in southern Hubei—in the wake of the Qin and Han conquests. Built upon this case study, my book incorporates recent archaeological and manuscript evidence to examine the ascent and afterlife of the Chu Empire from the fourth to the first century B.C.E. The book will propose a new theoretical framework based on the idea of “parallel empires” to reveal the diversity of imperial models that once existed in ancient China.

Photo of Dewei Shen