CEAS Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : October 10, 2017

This power-point talk will have three main topics: How the traditional decision to burn the archives was overcome, how the archives became scattered and where the different types and categories of materials ended up, and, finally, some thoughts on future directions for archival research.

Event
Posted : October 5, 2017

This lecture will be in Chinese This paper is a preliminary study of the relationship between traditional community associations in villages, towns, and cities that originally involved semi-annual sacrifices and the Buddhist religion during the Wei, Jin, Northern-Southern, Sui and Tang dynasties (fourth-tenth centuries). It reveals that during Jin, Southern-North-ern and Sui, the main conflict between the early associations and Buddhist monks concerned the killing of ani-mals. It further shows that later, in the seventh-tenth centuries, the two traditions came to a less confrontational...

Event
Posted : September 29, 2017

In this talk, I consider written texts from the northwest border region during the Han dynasty. I bring in a new interpretive framework, incorporate new excavated documents, and reconsider previously known materials to challenge common assumptions about textual culture in early China. The implications of this line of research challenge received understandings of text in early society. I propose that those living in the region constituted a literate community of commoners linked to the broader textual culture of the empire. And while scholars have often viewed text as the exclusive province of...

Event
Posted : September 29, 2017

This talk explores the concept and representations of post-mortem paradises in Ancient Egypt and Early China.  The notion of a paradise for the worthy, accessed through personal piety, ethical conduct or ritual knowledge, developed at a particular historical moment in the development of each of these great civilizations and expressed a genuine desire on the part of regular people for salvation and immortality. These expressions would have a lasting impact on the development of paradisiacal realms in the later universal religions of Christianity and Buddhism.  After a brief introduction to the...

Event
Posted : September 27, 2017

Collusion between businessmen and officials relies upon strong trust. In China, bureaucratic rotations and promotions across jurisdictions are a common practice. When officials are transferred to new places, it is hard for them to immediately establish trust with local businesses. Consequently, they tend to bring their trusted businessmen along with them. This paper studies this phenomenon using two unique administrative datasets, firm registry and bureaucratic promotion databases. We find an immediate spike in investment flow, particularly in real estate and construction industries,...

Event
Posted : September 27, 2017

How does migration shape collective resistance in migrant-sending communities (i.e. rural China)? This study integrates perspectives from social movements and migration to develop a framework in which migration simultaneously influences the cognitive and social foundation of collective action. The study draws on several data sources: a longitudinal rural survey, in-depth interviews, and a case study of Wukan. Results show that migrants act as a vehicle of political transmission and spur collective resistance in rural China, but the role of migration differs by the form and scale of collective...

Event
Posted : September 25, 2017

Zang Di, who has been honored three times as one of China’s top ten poets, is a featured poet at the Princeton Poetry Festival on October 5-6, 2017. His new collection, The Roots of Wisdom, translated by award-winning translator Eleanor Goodman, will be published at the same time by Zephyr Press. In this bilingual book, Zang Di uses rich, emotional language to explore the natural world, including his beloved Weiming Lake at Peking University — his “Walden.” Zang Di will also give readings at Harvard University’s Yenching Library on September 27, and at Yale University on October 9, during his...

Event
Posted : September 20, 2017

Japan has failed to see significant economic development in contrast to its East Asian neighbors for over a quarter century since its economic bubble burst. Even China surpassed Japan in its gross national product and Korea challenged Japanese technological leadership in the consumer goods industry with Samsung beating Sony in the cell phone market worldwide. In the international imagination Japan is now no longer associated with reliable cars, ubiquitous TV displays, or computer hardware but with manga, anime and video games. To its dismay or delight Japan has been transformed from a country...

Event
Posted : September 19, 2017

The effect of China’s civil examination system (keju) on human capital outcomes persists to this day. Using the variation in the density of jinshi—the highest qualification—across 278 Chinese prefectures in the Ming-Qing period (1368-1905) to proxy for the keju effect, and river distance to a prefecture’s nearest locations of pine and bamboo—the main ingredients for producing ink and paper—as instrumental variable, we find that an additional jinshi per 10,000 people during the Ming-Qing period leads to an increase in schooling of 0.7 years in the present day. Moreover, the...

Event
Posted : February 23, 2017

In the history of epigraphic study in China, which traces its history back to the eleventh century or much earlier, the 1980s was undisputedly one of the pivotal turning points. The influx of young aspiring scholars to the post-Cultural Revolution Chinese academia, who enthusiastically conducted extensive fieldwork across China to uncover epitaphs, sculptures, and other forms of stele inscriptions, marked a new phase in the scholarship of Chinese history. Their plentiful findings led to the publication of hundreds of new epigraphic collections since the 1990s, which ushered in the emergence...

Event
Posted : February 21, 2017

In “dream vision” (mugen) Noh, a ghost appears to a traveling priest in a dream and reenacts the memory that keeps it attached to this world; it does so in order to obtain assistance in achieving enlightenment and release from that attachment. Dream vision plays, especially those composed by Kanze Zeami and Konparu Zenchiku, are generally considered to be the finest embodiment of the aesthetic of yūgen (ineffable beauty) and as such resistant to allegorical and/or historical analysis. This paper will examine examples of Noh plays that incorporate stories from Heian period court culture such...

Event
Posted : February 15, 2017

The Japanese art dealer Yamanaka Sadajirō and art collector Nezu Ka’ichirō acquired numerous fragments of sculpture looted from Chinese Buddhist sites, notably caves at Tianlongshan. Levine considers the fragmentation and circulation of Tianlongshan’s sculpture—especially the heads of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas—into private collections and museums in relation to Tianlongshan’s modern “discovery,” Japanese colonial archaeology, and the twentieth-century, transnational art market for Chinese sculpture. A historian of the art and architecture of Japan and Buddhist visual cultures...

Event
Posted : February 15, 2017

Lunch will be provided. Infrastructures in China are designed as armatures for development—from the transit-oriented developments along Hong Kong’s metro system, integrated freshwater networks in the Pearl River Delta, to agricultural specialization programs in the Yangtze River Delta—all aim to increase economic production of regions, cities, and villages. These engineered landscapes manipulate political and economic systems, and alter the physical spaces, often with serious social and environmental consequences. However, many of these infrastructures also create unexpected landscapes of...

Event
Posted : February 3, 2017

In my lecture, I will examine the connections between Japonisme and the emergence of cinema. Japonisme, the influence of the Japanese art, culture and aesthetics on European and American art, roughly between the 1860s and 1910s, also had a significant impact on early cinema. In particular, I discuss the relationship between Japonisme and the films of Lumière brothers. Finding inspirations from paintings and applying their compositions to their films, the Lumière films presented accuracy, immediacy, and temporality, three goals of Impressionist painters. In order to challenge the liner...

Event
Posted : February 2, 2017

This talk contemplates the following questions about Song-period China.  If only certain parts of China experienced a “Medieval Economic Revolution,” can we view such revolution as a common feature of entire “China”?  If other parts of China experienced a significant economic downturn, how did such downturn interact with or offset the revolutionary growth elsewhere?  Much of the regional downturn was associated with environmental degradation.  And much of the environmental degradation both resulted from and led to the furthering of regional disparity, unequal resource allocation, and...

Event
Posted : January 30, 2017

This talk takes up the figure of the supply chain to think about the problem of constancy-amid-flux in the circulation of people and things between Fuzhou, China and the United States.  Ethnographically, the talk focuses on a grey industry of transnational Chinese couriers whose work revolves around the transport of American-born infants and a steady supply of “quality” milk formula from their migrant parents in the U.S. to designated caregivers in rural Fuzhou.  For Chinese migrants hoping to ensure the safe movement and return of their “Little Americans,” supply chains not only emerge as...

Event
Posted : January 27, 2017

It is the presence and placement of kanji or “Chinese characters” within the German and Japanese texts (both written by Tawada) that is a striking feature of Borudō no gikei/ Schwager in Bordeaux. Published first in 2008, the German language text written by Tawada contains 276 characters as headings or “titles” for component sections of varying lengths. In Tawada’s 2009 Japanese text, published in the following year, contains a similar layout, but the kanji that appears at the heading of each section is printed as a mirror image of itself. Can we take at face value, and as a kind of “key” to...

Event
Posted : December 15, 2016

Most Daoist scriptures in Early Medieval China were not freely accessible; they were transmitted from Masters to chosen disciples via elaborate transmission rituals. Scriptures, ritual manuals, and compendia record detailed instructions for the transmission of specific texts, including references to “pledge offerings” (called faxin, mengxin, xinwu, mengwu, mengshi, laixin, guixin or zhangxin) to be given by the disciple to the master as a requirement for the transmission of scriptures or other written materials. Offerings for the transmission of esoteric scriptures are not unique, we find...

Event
Posted : December 14, 2016

Based on archives, local gazetteers, 35 in-depth interviews in Beijing and Shanghai and many diaries and studying/working notes given by former Educated Youths, autobiographies, memoirs, documentary literature and reportage etc., this talk shows that firstly, the hunger for books and knowledge of the educated youths was stratified, and youths from city cadres and intellectuals’ families constituted the main body of personal reading activity during the Cultural Revolution. They found ways and means to obtain books to read, but in comparison, thirst for reading was not significant for the...

Event
Posted : November 17, 2016

The later reception of the Chuci anthology has been largely framed around the representation of the attributed author Qu Yuan as a loyal subject. This talk instead traces the earlier reception and contested status of Qu Yuan during the Han dynasty, to open up a space for the language of the Chuci to be deployed for a different orientation: as part of the repertoire of imperial performance in Xie Lingyun’s poetry. Harrison Huang received his Ph.D. from The University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in medieval Chinese poetry and intellectual history. His research interests...

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