Dr Yegor Grebnev

Junior Research Fellow in Oriental Studies
Research

Yegor's research is focused on a neglected collection of texts from ancient China known as the Yi Zhou shu 逸周書 (Leftover Writings of the Zhou Dynasty) that, despite their antiquity, have been dubbed 'suspicious' or 'forged' in traditional scholarship and therefore received very little attention both in China and in the West. However, what seemed suspicious to later generations appears to have been crucially important for the contemporary audiences during ca. 5th-3rd centuries BC (the Warring States period). The structures of these 'dubious' texts as well as recurring formulaic expressions employed in them betray a genetic connection with important canonical texts that cannot be explained as simple borrowing or imitation of authoritative patterns. By scrutinising the compositional techniques and formal features of these previously neglected sources, Yegor attempts to unwind the underlying social practices and explain how China invented its notion of authoritative textual knowledge. This development had profound implications: once established, authoritative texts facilitated the emergence of secretive and esoteric groups, religious communities with uniform text-based practice and became the basis of state-promoted institutionalised learning.

Yegor is strongly committed to comparative approach in research. He has recently undertaken a comparative study of an early Western Zhou (ca. 11th-10th centuries BC) commemorative royal text and Mesopotamian royal inscriptions, and is now investigating the practice of numerical lists for knowledge systematisation in ancient China and in the Pāli canon. One of the goals that Yegor tries to pursue in his work is to de-obfuscate early China and re-present it as an ancient textual culture that, despite its unique features, shared a lot in common with other parts of humanity.

Publications

'The Yi Zhou shu and the Shang shu: the case of texts with speeches' in: Martin Kern and Dirk Meyer (eds.) The Classic of Documents and the Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy. Leiden: Brill (forthcoming).

'Evolutsiya pamyati o zhouskom zavoyevanii Shan' ('The evolution of memory of the Zhou conquest of Shang') in Vostok, no. 4 (2016).

'Formirovaniye sistemy posmertnyh imyon v Drevnem Kitaye po dannym pis'mennyh istochnikov' ('The formation of the system of posthumous names in Ancient China according to written sources') in Sinologi mira k yubileyu Stanislava Kuchery (Contributions from an international community of Sinologists on the occasion of the anniversary of Stanislav Kuczera), Moscow: Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2013.