Blog Archives

18 Oct China Seminar: Christopher Rea

China Seminar: Of Spongers, Sharpers, and Cannibal Eunuchs:  The Swindle Story around the World

Speaker: University of British Columbia    Christopher Rea

Venue: VRIESH2 – 004      (all are welcome)

Time: 18 October 2017, 15:15-17:00

Abstract: Why do collections of swindle stories appear at certain times and places? In China, for example, the swindle story has experienced bursts of popularity during the late Ming, the early Republican era, the early Mao era, and during the last 20 years. And comparable works exist around the world. What, for example, do Zhang Yingyu’s Book of Swindles(Ming China, 1617),Richard King’s The New Cheats of London Exposed (Georgian England, 1792), and P.T. Barnum’s The Humbugs of the World (Reconstruction-era United States, 1867) have in common—and how do they differ? Swindle stories, clearly, serve a double purpose: they teach techniques for navigating perilous social environments, and they entertain. But theirs authors tend to frame these narratives within a questionable claim: that ours is an age of unprecedented peril. Focusing on the example of China, this talk will highlight one thread running through literary history: connoisseurship of the swindler’s ingenuity.


11 October CHILL (Chinese Linguistics in Leiden): Lin Jing


Chinese Linguistics in Leiden


11 October 2017 15:15-16:30, Wijkplaats 4/005


Lin Jing (Leiden):

Do speakers really benefit from linguistic markedness in hypothetical reasoning?


Abstract Many languages make use of conditional connectives in hypothetical sentences, like if in English. But if can also be used temporally, in which case it is interchangeable with temporal connectives like when. Such semantic ambiguity of conditional connectives is not found in Mandarin. Rúguǒ, for instance, only expresses hypotheticality. However, as I will show in this talk, speakers do not appear to benefit from the unique markedness of hypotheticality in Mandarin, as the presence of rúguǒ does not seem to help them reach a hypothetical reasoning pattern. I will present both accuracy and reaction time data, and discuss possible explanations for the results.



1 November 2017

Joren Pronk (Leiden): “A corpus-based description of kong2 in Taiwanese Southern Mǐn”


23 November 2017 [Thursday!! Location: to be announced]

Rint Sybesma (Leiden): “VO-OV and Voice and little v


29 November 2017

Liu Min (Leiden): “Processing of tone and intonation in Mandarin”


6 December 2017

Hu Han (Leiden) (title to be announced)


If you have questions, comments, suggestions: write to


4 October China seminar Jeroen de Kloet: You Must Create! Rethinking the Creativity Discourse in China

Jeroen de Kloet: You Must Create! Rethinking the Creativity Discourse in China

4 October 2017
15:15 – 17:00  hrs.
China Seminar
Lipsius Building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The demand to be or become creative is currently haunting urban youth worldwide. In China’s wish to become a creator, rather than manufacturer, this demand is turned into government documents, policy plans and urban regeneration projects. The overcoded language of creativity, innovation and sustainability are part of a governmental logic in which not only the Chinese state but also the local, regional and global cultural industries are complicit. But what does it mean to be creative? And is being creative different in China than elsewhere? Are there possible line of flight to escape from creativity? While quite a large body of work analyses creativity as a governmental tool, producing a new class called the precariat, consisting of subjectivities that are used as a flexible labor force that is deeply implicated in neoliberalism, the question of what we consider to be creative is by and large ignored. In my talk, drawing from examples from calligraphy, cinema, art, television and shanzhai culture, I aim to sidetrack current debates on creativity as a governmental tool, and instead zoom in on this rather empirical question: what does it mean to be creative in China in 2017? I hope to show that in particular in the art of copying, an art that resonates uncomfortably with global stereotypes about China, one can glimpse traces of creativity that are all too often discredited and ignored.

Jeroen de Kloet is Professor of Globalisation Studies and Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies (ACGS) at the University of Amsterdam and PI of the project ChinaCreative funded by the European Research Council (ERC). His work focuses on cultural globalisation, in particular in the context of East Asia. In 2010 he published China with a Cut – Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music (Amsterdam UP). He wrote, together with Yiu Fai Chow, Sonic Multiplicities: Hong Kong Pop and the Global Circulation of Sound and Image (Intellect, 2013), he edited together with Lena Scheen Spectacle and the City – Chinese Urbanities in Art and Popular Culture (Amsterdam UP, 2013) and with Robin Celikates, Esther Peeren and Thomas Poell Global Cultures of Contestation (Palgrave, 2018). He wrote, together with Anthony Fung, Youth Cultures in China (Polity, 2017).

See also and

26 September: Prof. Ge Jianxiong: Re-discover China: The People, the Land, Agriculture, and Traditional Wisdom

Re-discover China: The People, the Land, Agriculture, and Traditional Wisdom


Speaker: Prof. Ge Jianxiong 葛劍雄  Fudan University (China)


Time: September 26, 2017   3:15-5:00 PM          Venue: WIJKPL2 001


Abstract: Most Chinese regard themselves as descendants of Emperors Huangdi and Yandi. It is not a unified bloodline-based identity, but a cultural concept. Actually, China is always a nation made of multiethnic groups, and the term Huaxia (Han) is also a product of ethnic amalgamation. By the end of the Western Han, nearly all arable land had been cultivated and administered under the government registration. As the foundation, agriculture provided China with enough food to deal with its tremendous population growth. A lunisolar calendar also ritualized the daily life of this agrarian society. History, ethnic diversity and cultural traditions formed the fountainhead of contemporary China’s reforms and openness. (Talk will be in Chinese)





Upcoming Talks of Fall Semester


Dates Room Presenter Affiliation
4 October 2017 LIPSIUS 001 Jeroen de Kloet University of Amsterdam
18 October 2017 VRIESH2 – 004 Christopher Rea The University of British Columbia
25 October 2017 LIPSIUS 001 Ching-Ling Wang Rijksmuseum
15 November 2017 WIJKPL4 – 005 Daniel Stumm Leiden University
7 December 2017 EYCKH2 – 005 James Benn McMaster University
13 December 2017 REUVENS 201a Rongdao Lai University of Southern California
7 February 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Jonathan Silk Leiden University
28 February 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Maghiel van Crevel Leiden University
21 March 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Carolien Rieffe/Monica Klasing Chen Leiden University
11 April 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Carolien Rieffe/Monica Klasing Chen Leiden University
2 May 2018 LIPSIUS 235 Lin Fan Leiden University
23 May 2018 LIPSIUS 235 tbd tbd




13 Sept China Seminar: Dr. Lindsay Black: Going South or going sour?

Going South or going sour? Chinese pressure on Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy

Dr. Lindsay Black, Assistant Professor, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS)



Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has renewed calls for Taiwanese businesses to invest in Southeast Asia rather than China. Building on attempts by previous presidents to encourage Taiwanese businesses to diversify their investments, Tsai’s New Southbound policy aims to transform not only Taiwan’s economic relations, but also its political role in the East Asian region. Investing in Southeast Asia is not without risk, however, and critics assert that if mainland China does not acquiesce to this policy then Tsai’s efforts could well ‘go sour’. The success of the New Southbound policy therefore depends on how well the Tsai administration responds to domestic concerns and manages cross-Straits relations. This research will contextualize Taiwan’s new regional strategy and assess the impact of Chinese pressure on the New Southbound policy.


Time and venue

13 September 2017, 15.15-17.00, Lipsius 001

All are welcome! Entrance is free



Dates Room Presenter Affiliation
13 September 2017 LIPSIUS 001 Lindsay Black Leiden University
26 September 2017 WIJKPL2 – 001 Ge Jianxiong Fudan University
4 October 2017 LIPSIUS 001 Jeroen de Kloet University of Amsterdam
18 October 2017 VRIESH2 – 004 Christopher Rea The University of British Columbia
25 October 2017 LIPSIUS 001 Ching-Ling Wang Rijksmuseum
15 November 2017 WIJKPL4 – 005 Daniel Stumm Leiden University
7 December 2017 EYCKH2 – 005 James Benn McMaster University
13 December 2017 REUVENS 201a Rongdao Lai University of Southern California

19 April China seminar: Svetlana Kharchenkova on the emerging contemporary art market in China

China Seminar presents

Svetlana Kharchenkova (Lecturer, LIAS China Studies)


Dealing with a new market: the case of the emerging contemporary art market in China


In the 1980s there was barely an art market in China and now it is one of the world’s largest. Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the Beijing contemporary art market and interviews with artists, art dealers, collectors, museum directors, auction house employees and others, this talk will discuss how market emergence is done and perceived by its participants. In particular, it will address how the valuation of art happens in this new market, how this market’s participants perceive their market, and how the contemporary art market in China relates to established art markets in Europe and the US.


Time/date: 15.15-17.00, 19 April 2017 (Wed)

Location: Vrieshof 1 – 6



8 March China seminar: Ka Kin Cheuk: ‘Little India’ in China

‘Little India’ in China: Indian Traders in a Chinese Fabric Market

Speaker: Ka Kin Cheuk (LIAS, China Studies)

Date/time: 8 March 2017 (Wed), 15.15-17.00

Place: Vrieshof 1, Room 6



Keqiao, a county-level district under Shaoxing municipality in the eastern Zhejiang Province, is not only a global trading frontier, but also a ‘Little India’ in China. Its wholesale market accounts for one-third annual turnover of China-made fabrics – the semi-finished textiles that are industrially weaved, knitted, dyed, and printed in bulk before being exported. In the local market, about 5,000 Indians have established intermediary businesses, brokering fabric trade deals for their overseas buyers. Drawing on long-term anthropological fieldwork (2011-2012; 2016-2017), this talk aims to explore the everyday business experience of these Indians in Keqiao. It unpacks the economic niche that they have created, as well as the global trading networks that have sustained this niche in the local market. In so doing, the talk seeks to bring attention to the significance of this group of Indians in the global fabric trade.





15 Feb China seminar: Rogier Creemers: Building a Strong Cyber Power

Title: Building a Strong Cyber Power: China’s Ambitious ICT Strategy


Speaker: Rogier Creemers (LIAS & Van Vollenhoven Institute)


Date/time: 15 Feb 2017, 15.15-17.00

Place: Vrieshof 1, Room 6



In 2013, China embarked on a profound restructuring of its Internet governance structure and its information technology policy. Called the “strong cyber power strategy”, these measures are aimed at enhancing China’s technological capacities, their commercial application and the country’s weight in global Internet governance. This talk will discuss the leadership’s perceptions concerning the challenges and opportunities of information technology, how these influence policy formation, and how that interrelates with global questions.

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.