17 October China Seminar: Peter Lorge

China Seminar:

Journey to the West: Gunpowder’s Odyssey from China to Europe and Back

Peter Lorge (Vanderbilt University)

17 October, 15:15-17:00, VRIESHOF 1-006 (Leiden University, Witte Singel)

Gunpowder was one of the most consequential inventions to emerge from China.  While an earlier generation of scholars sought to prove the Chinese origin of gunpowder, the transmission of gunpowder across Eurasia has seldom received much attention.  The history of how gunpowder and gun technology traveled west across Eurasia in the late 13th and early 14thcenturies, and then returned east in the 16thcentury tells us a lot about the global medieval world and the roots of the modern world.  Perhaps just as critically, tracking the movement of gunpowder technology across Eurasia provides a better picture of the development of gunpowder technology in China, explains why it stagnated in the 14thcentury, and highlights the differences between the invention, production, and effects of technology on societies.

Peter Lorge is Associate Professor of Pre-Modern Chinese and military history at Vanderbilt University.  He is the author of four books, most recently The Reunification of China: Peace Through War Under the Song Dynasty (Cambridge 2015).  He is currently working on a book detailing the cultural use of Sunzi’s Art of War in the West. (https://as.vanderbilt.edu/history/bio/peter-lorge)


19 Sept China Seminar: Ting-Fai Yu: Reconfiguring Queer Chineseness

Please, mark your calendars for the next semester’s talks in the China Seminar series.

The first talk of the academic year 2018-2019 is by dr. Ting-Fai Yu and it is titled “Reconfiguring Queer Chineseness: Hong Kong as Method”. You can find the abstract and bio by following this link: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/events/2018/09/reconfiguring-queer-chineseness-hong-kong-as-method. Everyone is welcome to attend.


19 September, 15:15-17:00 LIPSIUS 130 Ting-Fai Yu IIAS
18 October, 15:15-17:00 VRIESH 1-006 Peter Lodge Vanderbilt University
31 October, 15:15-17:00 WIJKPL 2-006 Paul Vierthaler Leiden University
21 November, 15:15-17:00 WIJKPL 2-006 Jiyan Qiao Leiden University
12 December, 15:15-17:00 WIJKPL 2-006 Huei-Lan Xiong Leiden University




In response to the transnational turn of queer studies, the last two decades saw the emergence of queer Chinese studies as a burgeoning field that has actively situated Chinese-speaking communities outside the People’s Republic of China (e.g. Hong Kong, Taiwan) within the transnational frames of what have been described as queer Chinese roots and queer Chinese routes (Martin 2015). Departing from the existing scholarship emphasising either the continuity of Chinese ethnicity or the multiplicity of Chinese identities, this lecture sets up its context by highlighting how the framing of queer Chineseness has perpetuated the assumption that Hong Kong is incapable of producing knowledge to understand itself or generating theories to inform other queer formations outside China. Consequently, it not only subordinates Hong Kong to a peripheral position whose representations always depend on the presence of China, but also prevents the cultivation of local critical efforts towards meaningful understandings of local queer struggles.



Based on an ethnographic study of the influences of class on the subjective production of Hong Kong gay men, this lecture provides a perspective highlighting the ways in which inequalities are reproduced in local queer culture amid proliferating sexual progress. Anchored in a specific set of compressed economic transformations affecting postwar Hong Kong, the study understands class as a relatively recent formation that is linked to an unprecedented condition of rapid upward mobility and the emergence of Hong Kong identity since the 1970s. Although class was not commonly spoken about by the informants, their understandings of class were nevertheless displaced into other categories of social difference (i.e. age, generation, race and culture) which have come to inform their struggles and aspirations as queer subjects. By examining the inarticulability and displacements of class as symptoms of compressed economic modernisation, this study reveals the locally specific cultural logics that not only safeguarded the reproduction of inequalities but also rendered any resistance impossible.

Arguing for the revitalisation of class as a useful analytic category in enabling a fresh perspective of Hong Kong queer culture beyond the framing of queer Chineseness, this lecture concludes by exploring how Hong Kong can serve as a method towards localising queer studies in other East Asian societies which went through similar trajectories of economic development.


Ting-Fai Yu received his PhD in gender studies (anthropology) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2017. He is currently a research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden University. His work has focused on the intersection of sexuality, social inequality and critical methodologies in Asian studies.

28 June Manchu Foundation: Tsead, Jo en de Mantsjoes

Taal en poëzie van Friesland tot Siberië

Op deze avond vieren we de kracht van taal en poëzie en in het bijzonder onze nieuwste uitgave Mantsjoes toen en nu in gedichten en gebeden. We doen dit met drie prachtsprekers. Je zult op het puntje van je stoel zitten.

Jo DE BAERDEMAKER ofwel Typojo laat ons toe in zijn wereld van letterontwerp. Jo gaf verschillende kwetsbare talen een gezicht door middel van fontontwerp. Hiermee gaf hij niet alleen een practisch gereedschap aan de taalgebruikers, maar ook een stuk eigenwaarde. Want, denk je in: wat zou het betekenen als er geen letters zijn om Nederlands mee te typen?

Tsead BRUINJA zal voordragen uit eigen werk, dat zich splits in Friese en Nederlandse gedichten. Hoe deel je jezelf als je in twee moedertalen dicht? Naast de gedichten zelf, zal Tsead ook over die vraag een boekje open doen. Tsead zal zeker ook lezen uit zijn nieuwe bundel Hingje net alle klean op deselde kapstôk / Hang niet alle kleren aan dezelfde kapstok.

Fresco SAM-SIN zal in zijn presentatie de Mantjoe sjamanen, khans, soldaten en het gewone volk een stem geven. Bijna 300 jaar een wereldmacht en toch nog zo onbekend. En hoe mooi als we de Mantsjoes kunnen leren kennen door hun, voor het Nederlandse publiek, compleet onbekende literatuur. Dat is precies wat Fresco zal doen.

locatie: Imperium, Oude Vest 33E, Leiden



28-30 June Shared Taste Conference: food and exchange in Asia and Europe

Shared Taste Conference:
The Shared Taste Conference takes place on June 28, June 29 and June 30 and features scholars working across relevant disciplines to present papers on the Eurasian movement of crops, foodstuffs and food practices, and the role of food in the exchange between Asia and Europe.

Keynote and opening of conference on June 28 by eminent French food historian Françoise Sabban (Paris); special featured speaker on June 29 is Asian food scholar Cecilia Leong-Salobir (Wollongong).

Register through website:

Shared Taste Conference programme

25 May China Seminar: Bian He

Title: “Not a Local Product Here”: Materia Medica and the Spatial Politics of Material Resources (wuliao) in Ming China

Speaker: Bian He (Princeton University / MPIWG)

Time and location: Friday 25 May, 15.00-17.00 WIJKPL2/001

Abstract: Pharmaceutical ingredients constituted a major category of local products (tuchan) in Chinese historiography. The institution of local tribute (tugong) in turn mediated the relationship between the central regime and local administrations, deriving its legitimacy from the correct identification of noteworthy products with their places of origin. It has been widely assumed that during the Ming dynasty the imperial state’s collection of materia medica, along with other tribute items, became converted into a surtax paid with silver, yet few has looked into the particular process of this change with a wide geographical coverage. Nor were the political, economic, and cultural consequences of this change fully explored. In this talk, I seek to address these questions with my work on the documentation of materia medica as “material resources (wuliao)” in Ming local gazetteers, and present some preliminary results drawn from the digital research platform on Local Gazetteers at MPIWG Berlin. Overall, I hope to demonstrate the distinct regional character of fiscal reform starting from the fifteenth century, and discuss the dynamic relationship between policy, commerce, and culture as seen through the example of pharmacy.

16 May China Seminar: Limin Teh

Title: Mining the Dragon Vein: Coal Extraction and Secular Power in Northeast China, 1895-1912

Speaker: Limin Teh (Leiden University)

Time: 16 May, 15:15-17:00

Location: Lipsius 235

Abstract: Coal mining in late Qing and early Republican China ushered in new forms of mobilities (rail transport), production (industrial manufacture), governance (mining laws), knowledge production (geology), and political mobilization (unionization). These new forms, in one way or another, contributed to the dissolution of the late imperial state. In this paper, I take this claim a step further to assert that mining secularized political power when mining extended into formerly sacred landscape. This paper examines changes in the landscape of the area that the Qing court termed the “dragon vein longmai” and “the place where the dragon arose longxing zhi di,” which encompassed three mausoleums in the Greater Mukden (or Shenyang) vicinity and the Changbai mountains. To protect this area that was considered the birthplace of the Manchu people, the Qing court in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries instituted controls over the landscape, ranging from ritual visits to restricted land ownership. The dragon vein also happened to possess a wealth of coal deposits, which were opened in the late nineteenth century to foreign and Chinese mining interests following exponential rise in coal demand resulting from the construction of the Russian-owned Chinese Eastern Railroad. What global and local factors brought about this change? How did the imperial throne and local Qing officials negotiate this change? What were the implications of this change on the imperial throne? These questions guide the paper’s investigation of the introduction of mining in the Manchu ancestral homeland, using maps, travelogues, and official documents.

9 May CHILL! Han Mengru


Chinese Linguistics in Leiden


Last talk of the season!

Wednesday 9 May 2018, 15:15-16:30

Van Wijkplaats 2, room 006


Han Mengru  (Utrecht):

“Mothers’ use of prosodic prominence in word-learning contexts: evidence from Dutch and Mandarin infant-directed speech”


This talk is about the way in which Dutch and Mandarin speaking mothers use prosody (temporal and pitch-related cues) in infant-directed speech in word-learning contexts. We will discuss the question how universal or language-specific different aspects of infant-directed speech are.


for comments and suggestions for Autumn, please contact r.p.e.sybesma@hum.leidenuniv.nl


18 April China Seminar: Lai Yu-chi: “Manchu Roots”

Lai Yu-chih (Academia Sinica, Taiwan), “Manchu Roots: Imperial Politics, Image Discourse, and European Botanical Studies at the Qianlong Court”


Abstract: Changbai Mountain was deemed by the Manchu rulers of the Qing as the birthplace for the ancestors of the dynasty and, therefore, a sacred mountain. The trees growing there were often connected with the fate of the Qing Empire. The Qianlong emperor himself composed at least two rhymes on two different auspicious trees growing there and related these two trees to the fate of his empire, one of which is the focus of this paper. For picturing and recording this tree, Qianlong ordered an expedition equipped with a professional court painter to be organized to investigate this tree firsthand. At least four sets of images were made after this expedition, within which actual specimens were also included. Therefore, this talk will take this series of images on this auspicious tree on the Manchu’s sacred mount as an example to explore why Qianlong insisted on the “first-hand” investigation of this actual tree? Why is this tree so important to Qianlong? What role did images play in dealing with the critical issues regarding the existence of the tree? Most importantly, how would this function, if any, of images affect the style and the making of them?

This talk is sponsored by the Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation.





Upcoming Talks:

Dates Venue Presenter Affiliation
18 April 2018 Vossius (University library) Yu-chih Lai Academia Sinica
2 May 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Lin Fan Leiden University
16 May 2018 TBA Limin Teh Leiden University
25 May WIJKPL2/001 Bian He Princeton University


18 April CHILL! Yang Zhaole on “Mandarin yě and scalarity”


Chinese Linguistics in Leiden

Spring 2018


All talks Wednesdays 15:15-16:30, Van Wijkplaats 2, room 006


18 April

Yang Zhaole (Leiden): “Mandarin and scalarity”

This talk will be about Mandarin (‘also’ in its basic use) in no-matter contexts and even contexts. I will show that all contexts in which can be used are characterized by scalarity.


9 May

Han Mengru  (Utrecht): “Mothers’ use of prosodic prominence in word-learning contexts: evidence from Dutch and Mandarin infant-directed speech”


for comments and suggestions, please contact r.p.e.sybesma@hum.leidenuniv.nl


20 april: Fresco Sam-Sin: Mantsjoes toen en nu in gedichten en gebeden

Mantsjoes toen en nu in gedichten en gebeden


Bijna drie eeuwen lang heersten de Mantsjoes over een van de grootste landrijken ooit, de Daiqing (1636-1912). Na de val van hun rijk viel de Mantsjoes haat, hoon en onderdrukking ten deel. Fresco Sam-Sin zal met gedichten en gebeden het lot van de Mantsjoes aan u introduceren: van bidden in het wild en in het donker, via lof-, hof- en liefdesverzen, tot trauma op rijm en burleske macaroni om te eindigen met beelden en geluiden van moderne poëzie. Welke invloed hebben de gebeden en gedichten van toen op de dichters en sprekers van nu?



20 april: Amsterdam – Perdu