|[a] Cyclical RF|
|[b] UC RF|
Over the course of the year, I heard his name many more times, but I became more and more puzzled as time went on. In my seminars and my outside reading, it appeared to me that Marcel Granet was being claimed by sociologists and China scholars, respectively, with few clearly articulating where he fit into either scholarly tradition. There was a broad range of agreement on one point, however—he was a highly imaginative and brilliant scholar. Maurice Freedman puts it succinctly in his introductory essay at the beginning of the English translation of La religion des chinois (The Religion of the Chinese People).
|[c] Social thought RF|
Even as a sinologist, Marcel Granet was also hardly alone in his interest in sociological theory—in France and beyond. Most scholars of China were well-acquainted with the writings of Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Marcel Mauss, among others. Indeed, the rise of both disciplines from esoteric or personal studies to fully academic disciplines coincided to a very great extent. The late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries saw both fields "cement" their academic statuses in substantial ways—with university professorships created where none existed before. During Granet’s prime in the years between the world wars, each discipline entered (depending on how one counts) a second or third generation in which methodology and theory was ever more precisely defined. By the beginning of World War II, sociology had been taught in major universities for several generations and Chinese studies had begun to take hold as an academic concentration in Europe and North America.
|[c] Social persuasion RF|
More than seventy years after Marcel Granet’s death, however, relatively little has been written about his life or his scholarship, and the contrast with publications on his teacher, Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), or his close friend, Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), is stark. It occurred to me, as I studied with Professors Shils and Harper in their seminars, that what was needed to remedy the situation was a retrospective of Granet’s work that included not only all of his published writings, but the writings of the sinological and sociological traditions that inspired him.
Even though I went on to other areas in my own graduate studies, this “synthetic project” continued to intrigue me, to the extent that I offered a seminar of my own on Marcel Granet in the Continuing Education program at the University of Chicago in 1991, and two others in 2002 and 2004 at Beloit College. In 2006, I received a grant from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation (the title is the same as that for this series of posts) to study Granet. My mountain project grew directly out of that grant, and this series of blog posts is for me a way of introducing Granet to a wider readership and exploring ways to further our understanding of his odd and brilliant scholarship
Sociologists have been even more neglectful of Granet’s scholarship, although the reasons are at least easier to understand. The more Granet's research engages details of Chinese literature, philosophy, and history, the less sociologists have read it. It is as if they have given him back to the sinologists because of their inability to read Chinese texts.
|[d] Intersecting RF|
It is true that China scholars have an advantage in this regard, since they know the Chinese textual tradition so dear to Marcel Granet in a way that is closed to sociologists without knowledge of Chinese. That those same China scholars have, almost to a person, failed to read deeply in the French sociological tradition is inexplicable. More than seventy years after his death, few scholars have written more than a handful of pages that directly address the sociology behind Granet’s sinology, and the sinology behind his sociology. The work of a truly great scholar and fascinating human being has thus been needlessly marginalized.
|[e] Sociomagical RF|
|[f] Square RF|