News Products
Products Latest News
Product Name:

WANG Mingke | Primordial Community: Concepts, Ideals, and Reality

Release Date: 2018/6/19 15:28:12

WANG Mingke | Primordial Community: Concepts, Ideals, and Reality

On the morning of June 13th, Dr. WANG Ming-ke, Distinguished Research Fellow and Director of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, presented his research on “primordial societies”.

WANG Mingke | Primordial Community: Concepts, Ideals, and Reality

Dr. WANG first introduced his field work on the Qiang and Tibetan people’s “mountain spirit societies” in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. From his field work, Dr. WANG was able to understand the social reality behind cultural representation (beliefs in mountain spirits and oral history) – belief in mountain spirits is a part of human ecology that differentiates boundaries and protects territories. According to Dr. WANG, mountain spirits regulate territorial boundaries. In these societies, spatiality overlaps with blood relationship – a neighbour is also a kin. Therefore, “mountain spirits societies” are a type of primordial society.

Dr. WANG introduced the concept and characteristics of “primordial societies”. Members of a primordialsociety are bounded by both space and blood relationship. The boundaries of primordial societies have been sanctified by religion, and naturalized and legitimized by history.The “primordialness” of primordial societies comes from 1) the social experience of late Neolithic settlements, and 2) the familial experience of human beings.

Dr. WANG believes that some people in primordial societies could escape spatial constraints by connecting through- and recognizing blood relationship. Indeed, historical memories of blood genealogy is one of the tools which human beings could use towards building a more complex and hierarchical society. However, as human society becomes more complex and hierarchical, primordial association is both being pursued and deconstructed at the same time. “Same surname village” and fraternities are examples of primordial societies, in which people call each other brothers and sisters, and bound in symbolic spaces (fraternity houses or bases).

WANG Mingke | Primordial Community: Concepts, Ideals, and Reality

Lastly, Dr. WANG argues that nation states are also a type of primordial society – the ethnic nation converges with the country (territory and sovereignty). An extreme example is the reoccurrence of 19th century German nationalism. Such nationalism led to the horrific eventsof genocide in South-west Africa, and the Holocaust. Indeed, violence is also a part of primordial society. The recent Israel-Palestine conflict, which resulted in the death of Palestinian protesters, is also an example. This ultimately leads to the pressing question of how mankind could be freed from violence.

Zhejiang University Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences

Copyright © 2016 IAS at Zhejiang University


Zhijiang Campus of Zhejiang University, 51 Zhijiang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

Tel& Fax:0571-86592882
FAX :+86 0755-2788 8009
Zip Code:310008