Blog Archives

30 November China Seminar: Matt Ferchen: Political risk assessment

Political Risk Assessment with Chinese Characteristics: Venezuela and Beyond

Matt Ferchen (Tsinghua University)

Beginning around 2011, when Chinese investments and citizens were caught up in unexpected turmoil and political change in places like Libya and Myanmar, Chinese government officials, academics and business leaders began to focus on better understanding and managing “political risk”. Yet at this same time China was building up its largest overseas loan portfolio, and a close diplomatic relationship, with arguably the highest risk country in the Americas: Venezuela. This talk will discuss how the concept, and management, of political risk has evolved in China in recent years and how despite these efforts China’s relations with Venezuela highlight the difficulties and contradictions in China’s new risk management efforts. The discussion will include a focus on how the political economy of “stability”, both in China’s domestic and foreign affairs, is central to understanding how risk is conceptualized and, at least in the case of Venezuela, (mis)managed.

Matt Ferchen is an associate professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing and also a resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Professor Ferchen has lived, studied and worked in China since 2000 and his research and teaching focus on the domestic and international political economy of China’s evolving development model. He has a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University and a Master’s in international affairs from Johns Hopkins SAIS.


When & where: Wednesday 30 November 15:15-17:00 p.m. De Vrieshof 4/006 Leiden University, Leiden

23 November China Seminar: Michael Keevak: How did East Asians become yellow?

Wednesday 23 November; 15:15-17:00 p.m. Location: De Vrieshof 3/ 104 (Verbarium), Leiden University

How Did East Asians Become Yellow?

Michael Keevak

In their earliest encounters with East Asia, Europeans almost uniformly characterized the people of China and Japan as white, yet by the end of the seventeenth century the category of whiteness was reserved for Europeans only. When and how did Asians become “yellow” in the Western imagination? Looking at the history of racial thinking, this talk will explore the notion of yellowness and show that the label originated not in early travel texts or objective descriptions, but in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century scientific discourses on race. The conceptual relationship between East Asians and yellow skin did not begin in Chinese culture or Western readings of East Asian cultural symbols, but in anthropological and medical records that described variations in skin color. Eighteenth-century taxonomers such as Carl Linnaeus, as well as Victorian scientists and early anthropologists, assigned colors to all racial groups, and once East Asians were lumped together as members of the “Mongolian race” they began to be considered yellow.

Michael Keevak is a professor of foreign languages at National Taiwan University. His books include Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton, 2011); The Story of a Stele: China’s Nestorian Monument and its Reception in the West, 1625-1916 (Hong Kong, 2008); and The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar’s Eighteenth-Century Formosan Hoax (Detroit, 2004). A new book, Embassies to China: Diplomacy and Cultural Encounters Before the Opium Wars, is forthcoming next year from Palgrave Macmillan.

19 October China Seminar: Prof. Max K.W. Huang on the Transformation of Knowledge in Modern China

China Seminar 2016-2017 19 October

From 15.15-17.00 in Vrieshof 3 – Verbarium, Leiden University, Witte Singel 25, Leiden. All are welcome.


Evolution and Ethics and the Transformation of Knowledge in Modern China

Professor Max. K. W. Huang

Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, R.O.C.


Yan Fu’s Theory of Natural Evolution, a translation of Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics, was an important work and famous for its inaccuracy. It was widely read and encouraged Chinese people to understand natural evolution to strengthen themselves and to save their race. In this talk I will analyze the features of this Chinese translation and its impact on knowledge transformation in modern China. Yan’s translation was strongly influenced by his prior study of The Book of Changes and Xunzi. Yan emphasized the importance of ethical values in the process of evolution. He criticized Spencer for overemphasizing natural evolution at the expense of moral autonomy, and established a link between his emphasis on ethics, individual freedom, and Huxley’s theory of social cooperation. In this way, Yan’s understanding of evolution placed equal emphasis on self and group and led to an accommodative approach to policy and cultural reform. His ideas influenced both revolutionaries and constitutionalists in the late Qing, as well as liberals and New-Confucians in the Republican period. Moreover, Yan’s view of natural evolution along with his other translations of J. S. Mill, Adam Smith and Herbert Spencer led to the widespread adoption of a linear view of historical studies, as well as the rise of sociology, economics, political sciences, and religious studies in Modern China.


About the Speaker:

Dr. Max K. W. Huang was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1957. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History from Nation Taiwan Normal University. He subsequently pursued his studies in the United Kingdom and the United States, receiving a second master’s degree from Oxford University and his Ph. D degree from Stanford University. He is a distinguished research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. His major fields are Ming-Qing studies and Modern Chinese intellectual history. He has published six books and more than 80 articles. Dr. Huang’s most recent book is If It’s not Dirty, It’s No Joke: Humor, Desire, and the Body in the World of Modern Chinese Masculinity. His latest book is Government and Politics in Taiwan (Rouledge, 2011). He has a new co-edited volume titled Migration to and from Taiwan (Routledge, 2014).


黃克武 教授





黃克武博士1957年生於臺灣臺北,臺灣師範大學歷史學系學士、碩士,英國牛津(University of Oxford, U.K.)大學東方系碩士(1989),美國史丹佛(Stanford University, USA)大學歷史系博士(2001)。現任中央研究院近代史研究所特聘研究員。研究領域為明清史、中國近代思想史。主要著作:《一個被放棄的選擇:梁啟超調適思想之研究》(1994)、《自由的所以然:嚴復對約翰彌爾自由思想的認識與批判》(1998)、The Meaning of Freedom: Yan Fu and the Origins of Chinese Liberalism(2008),《惟適之安:嚴復與近代中國的文化轉型》(2010),《近代中國的思潮與人物》(2013),《言不褻不笑:近代中國男性世界中的諧謔、情慾與身體》(2016),以及有關明清文化史、嚴復、梁啟超、胡適、蔣中正等之學術論文八十餘篇。

China seminar: updated schedule

China Seminar 2016-2017

From 15.15-17.00 in Vrieshof 1 – 6


28 Sep 2016   CANCELLED

Frank Pieke (LIAS): “Party Spirit: Producing Communist Belief in Contemporary China”


19 Oct 2016

Max K.W. Huang (Academia Sinica): “Evolution and Ethics and the Transformation of Knowledge in Modern China”

This lecture is part of the Taiwan Lectures on Chinese Studies.


9 Nov 2016

Weiyu Zhang (National University of Singapore): “Fandom Publics: The Internet and New Social Formation in China”

N.B.: This session starts at 16.00.


30 Nov 2016

Matt Ferchen (Tsinghua University): “Political Risk Assessment with Chinese Characteristics: Venezuela and Beyond”




Fri 16 Sept lecture by Prof. Ik-sang Eom: Siblings or Neighbors: Chinese and Korean

On Friday 16 September 2016


in Lipsius 235b


Professor Ik-sang Eom

from Hanyang University, Seoul


will give a lecture entitled


Siblings or Neighbors: Chinese and Korean




Typologically as well as lexically, Korean shares quite a number of properties with Chinese. The similarities go beyond the Sino-Korean part of the lexicon: we also find them with (seemingly?) indigenous Korean words. In this presentation, we will discuss why Chinese and Korean look similar and how they are related.



About the speaker

Professor Ik-sang Eom, now at the department of Chinese Language and Culture at Hanyang University, received his Ph.D. in East Asian linguistics from Indiana University in 1991. His areas of research include Chinese phonology, pedagogy, dialectology, and Sino-Korean linguistics. His publications include Chinese Linguistics from a Korean Perspective (2002, 2005) and Sino-Korean Phonology from a Chinese Linguistics Perspective (2008), both in Korean, and many other books and articles in Korean, English and Chinese.


all welcome!

Save the dates: China Seminar 2016-2017

China Seminar 2016-2017

From 15.00-17.00 in Vrieshof 1 – 6


28 Sep 2016

Frank Pieke (LIAS): “Party Spirit: Producing Communist Belief in Contemporary China”


19 Oct 2016

Max K.W. Huang (Academia Sinica): “Evolution and Ethics and the Transformation of Knowledge in Modern China”


9 Nov 2016

Weiyu Zhang (NUS): TBA

N.B.: This session starts at 16.00.


30 Nov 2016

Xiao Chi (NUS): TBA


15 Feb 2017

Rogier Creemers (LIAS): TBA


8 Mar 2017

Ka Kin Cheuk (LIAS): TBA


29 Mar 2017

Jue Wang (LIAS): TBA


19 Apr 2017

Svetlana Kharakova (LIAS): TBA

18 May CHILL lecture by Wang Man “Experimental approach to language production of Mandarin”


Chinese Linguistics in Leiden



Last Lecture of the 2016 Spring Series!


All welcome!


18 May 2016


15:15-16:30, De Vrieshof 1/001



WANG Man (Leiden)


“Experimental approach to language production of Mandarin”


Most psycholinguistic models of speech production agree on an earlier semantic processing stage and a later word-form encoding stage. These models are mainly based on evidence from West Germanic languages, where orthographic and phonological forms are less differentiated. However, languages using logographic scripts (e.g. Mandarin) show a highly arbitrary grapheme-to-phoneme correspondence. This phenomenon raises the issue to what extent current psycholinguistic models are capable of accounting for cross-linguistic differences. In this talk, I will discuss the time course of Mandarin production and the generalizability of current language production models.



More to come in the Fall of 2016!


CHILL! cancellation talk planned for 4 May

The Chinese Linguistics talk planned for Wednesday 4 May has been cancelled.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.


20 April CHILL lecture by WU Juan


Chinese Linguistics in Leiden


All lectures Wednesdays 15:15-16:30, De Vrieshof 1/001



20 April 2016

WU Juan (Leiden)

“Contact-Induced Grammatical Creations: Through the Lens of Chinese Buddhist Translations”


The translation of Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese (between 2nd-11th Century CE) is one of the most spectacular cross-cultural enterprises in human civilization. It not only imported Buddhist ideologies into China, but also brought about the first large-scale language contact in Chinese history, which resulted in new lexical items, semantic elements and syntactic forms. These contact-induced innovations provide a window into how ancient translators mediated between different linguistic and cultural systems. This paper presents some representative examples of syntactic patterns found in Chinese Buddhist texts, discussing in particular those which left lasting marks on the development of the Chinese language as well as those which only survived briefly. Finally, through correlating these creations with similar linguistic phenomena found in other religious translations and in other language-contact settings, the paper will argue the importance of Chinese Buddhist translations within the broader context of language-contact studies in general.



4 May 2016: HU Han (Leiden)

“A Sociolinguistic Study on Rhoticity in Beijing Mandarin”


18 May 2016: WANG Man (Leiden)

“Experimental approach to language production of Mandarin”.



all welcome!


CHILL! Talk 6 April Zou Ting: Processing of lexical tones by Dutch learners of Mandarin

Chinese Linguistics in Leiden
Upcoming talks:
6 April 2016, 15:15-16:30, De Vrieshof 1/1
ZOU Ting (Leiden)
“Processing of lexical tones by Dutch learners of Mandarin”
This study investigates how beginner and advanced Dutch learners of Mandarin process tonal information. Looking at tonal discrimination and segment tone integration, our investigations show a developmental path in tone learning. The beginner learners cannot process tonal contrast adequately at the phonological level, and they process segmental and tonal information separately, like native Dutch listeners without Mandarin experience. The advanced learners show a good phonological discrimination of tonal contrasts. They show a more native-like pattern in distributing their attention between segmental and tonal information, and they process the two dimensions in an integrated manner, similar to native Mandarin listeners. This suggests that the acquisition of new tonal categories in L2 involves a redistribution of attention along acoustic dimensions and the development of segment-tone integration.
The rest of the Spring Program (all on Wednesdays 15:15-16:30, De Vrieshof 1/1, Leiden)
20 April 2016: Wu Juan (Leiden): “Contact-Induced Grammatical Creations: Through the Lens of Chinese Buddhist Translations”
4 May 2016: Hu Han (Leiden): “A Sociolinguistic Study on Rhoticity in Beijing Mandarin”
18 May 2016: Wang Man (Leiden): “Experimental approach to language production of Mandarin”