Zheng Zhen and the Rise of Evidential Research in Late Qing Northern Guizhou
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This article investigates the formation of the Shatan scholarly group and the contribution of its leader, Zheng Zhen. Zheng benefitted from a vigorous trans-regional cultural network of returned local scholars such as Li Xun and Mo Yuchou and prominent scholar-officials from outside such as Cheng Enze and He Changling. Zheng Zhen remained true to the approaches and research topics of evidential research, i.e., historical philology and exegesis of pre-Qin classics, bibliography, and an inquiry into ancient institutions and technology, in an era when the general intellectual trend turned toward statecraft studies and the politicized Modern Text School, promoted by scholars like Gong Zizhen and Kang Youwei. The contribution of the Shatan group, Zheng Zhen in particular, embodies the rise of evidential research, a passion for facts, as well as concerns about society. More importantly, it prompts us to rethink Guizhou as an active agent in the late Qing Chinese cultural landscape.