Participants discussed how to define local elites in different temporal and spatial contexts, how to translate various Chinese terms indicating local elites and members of society into English, and how to investigate elites' changing beliefs and self-identities in relation to major historical changes, including political and military crises, commercialization and urbanization. In addition, the participants reviewed the merits and limitations of the recent efforts of interpreting Chinese citizenship based on historical practices instead of ideological discourses. The shifting roles of local elites in infrastructural developments implied their changing relations to the imperial polity and to the general populace, which could contribute to the comparative history of citizenship and political membership.

Based on two annotated inscriptions by Dr. Sander Molenaar and members of the RegInfra team analyzed the roles of families and lineage organizations in constructing bridges, and how this pattern differed depending on regions, types, and scale of infrastructure. Several inscriptions reveal the facts that not only several generations of the same family were involved in construction, but such involvement was often used to justify the exclusive ownership or to claim other types of rights for the family. Besides, each reading group member shared their research interests and plans using inscriptions and other primary sources. Some of members in charge of annotating inscriptions also discussed the best way of annotating multiple action causes, tagging cases of construction failures, and differentiating old and new object parts. 


  • Esherick, Joseph W. and Mary Backus Rankin, “Introduction,” in Esherick and Rankin (eds), Chinese Local Elites and Patterns of Dominance (University of California Press, 1993), 1-24. (I also have the pdf)
  • Muldrew, Craig. "The ‘Middling Sort’: An Emergent Cultural Identity,” in Keith Wrightson (ed), A Social History of England, 1500-1750 (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 290-309.