May 1, Leiden University: Talk by Art Critic Su Wei: Nothing about Matisse: the postponed modern and its intellectual trace

#SinArts Presents

When: May 1st 2015 15:15-17:00
Where: Leiden University, Lipsius 030.

#SinArts has the pleasure of hosting Art Critic and Curator Su Wei (苏伟, 1982) , recent winner of the inaugural IAAC award (with his essay on an exhibition of Yan Lei’s work.). Please join us to discuss the re-examination of art historical frameworks in China:

“On Feb. 3rd 1942, the Lu Xun Fine Arts Academy in Yan’an sent a delegation consisting of nine artists to the frontline of Anti-Japanese war. After their return to Yan’an, artist Zhuang Yan realized an exhibition along with two other members of the delegation. They presented some paintings they had finished during their visit at the frontline, which were then sharply criticized as ‘too much like Matisse’ and ‘alienated from the people’. Given the fact that the exhibition was held during the ‘Yan’an Forum on Literature and art’, one of the most significant events in China’s modern history of art, the ‘debate of Matisse’ inevitably turned into a political discussion. Mao Zedong’s talk at ‘Yan’an Forum on Literature and art’ stipulates that art should reflect the life of the ‘working class’ and serve politics, therefore, the ‘debate of Matisse’ doesn’t revolve around a certain formalist aesthetics, rather, it is a postponed discussion of modernism: ‘Matisse’ and its modern ideology never arrived.

The talk will elaborate on the influence of the ‘debate of Matisse’, focusing on several historical cases of art practice in the 30s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. By analyzing their context and various forms of struggle with political ideology, the talk will bring up several common issues shared by different art practitioners in different eras and an intellectual trace that leads to current state of Chinese contemporary art. On what basis can we discuss China’s art practice? How is the commercialized formalist wave, which is taking place in Beijing and Shanghai’s art scene, related to Chinese modern ideological development, what is missing and hidden on behalf of internationalization and globalisation? To what extend does or doesn’t Chinese artists’ modernist appeal overlap with the modernist blueprint of the state? All these questions need to be re-examined in a new art-historical framework that differentiates itself from the existing art historical narrative, which – since more than three decades – has been governing our understanding of China’s art practice with its dogma of cultural criticism and appropriation of occidental methodology.”

SU Wei (苏伟, 1982) is an independent art critic and curator, based in Beijing and Hong Kong. Since 2008, his work has focused on theoretical practice and writings on contemporary art. SU Wei received his PhD at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2012, after spending two years researching his dissertation, at the Free University, Berlin. He took part in the ICI curatorial course in 2012 in New York and won the 1st prize of International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) in 2014.
SU Wei was involved in the curatorial team of Little Movements: Self-Practice in Contemporary Art, in 2011. In 2012 he co-curated the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale at OCAT, Shenzhen. In 2014, he curated, Keep the Modern Going: Immersion, Awaiting and Idealism, also at OCAT, as well as Position of Interference. Zhao Liang’s Solo Exhibition at the Three Shadows Gallery, in Beijing. His publications include Little Movements, Self-Practice in Contemporary Art (with others), 2011; Accidental Message: Art is Not a System, Not a World (with others), 2012; Individual Experience: Commentaries and Narratives of Chinese Contemporary Art from 1989-2013 (also with others) 2013. He has also written commentaries on each chapter of art historian Hans Belting’s monograph Art History after Modernism, in his own translation of the work.

For registration and extra information please contact
This event is made possible with the generous support of the Confucius Institute at Leiden University.

Calligraphy Exhibition Anneke Roozendaal

Calligraphy in the Arsenaal and the East Asia Library

At the moment there is an exhibition of calligraphies by the Dutch artist Anneke Roozendaal on the ground floor of the Arsenaal as well as in the East Asian Library (first floor).

The exhibition will last until the end of April. Anneke Roozendaal will be present in the patio of the Arsenaal to discuss her work on 27/2 and 6/3, from 15:00-17:00.

Opening hours of the East Asian Library: Monday and Friday 9-17, Tuesday-Thursday 9-19.
Address: Arsenaalstraat 1, 2311 CT, Leiden.

To contact Anneke Roozendaal: ;

26 November: SVS Symposium on China’s international relations

SVS presents: Symposium on China’s international relations

Date: 26 November 2014
Location: Lipsius 2.27 (Leiden, Cleveringaplaats 1)

15.15 – 16.00 (in English)
Jue Wang:
China’s role in global governance

16.15 – 17.00 (in Dutch)
Frank Pieke:
Charme-offensief van de CCP en het terugkerende gebruik van buitenlandse vrienden

17.15 – 18.00 (in English)
Lindsay Black:
Economic integration and security in Northeast Asia – the role of business in Sino-Japanese relations

Drinks afterwards in the Arsenaal.

All welcome!

2 Oct Seminar on Southern Min at Leiden University

LUCL and LIAS present a seminar on

Southern Min: Contact, Context and Diachrony

2 October 2014, 9:30-13:00
Lipsius 228 (Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden)

The utterance-final particle ê in Taiwan Mandarin: core function and emergence

10:15-11:00 Hilary Chappell CRLAO-EHESS-INALCO, PARIS
Diachronic change and verbs of giving in Early Southern Min

Language contact, wishful thinking or bad fieldwork? How to make sense of consistent language documentation in missionary sources

Radical pro-drop from a diachronic perspective

All welcome!

Presentation 15 Sept: The Ming Court in a Chinggisid World by David M. Robinson

Presentation by David Robinson at the Leiden Institute of History, Monday Sept. 15


David Robinson
15 September 15.00u-17.00u
Huizinga Conference Room

The Ming Court in a Chinggisid World
David M. Robinson

During fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Ming court should be understood as one of many courts in Eurasia struggling to come to terms with the legacy of the Mongol empire. Such courts struck various poses vis-à-vis the Mongol empire: some announced themselves the proud successors to the Chinggisid mantle; some denounced the Mongols’ pernicious impact on society, culture, and morality; yet others focused on the restoration of pure native traditions; some tried to domesticate and subjugate the Chinggisid lineage; and finally others quietly appropriated technologies of governances used by the Chinggisids. Regardless of which combination of strategies they chose, polities throughout Eurasia shared a common point of reference, the memory of the Mongol empire and the living reality of the Chinggisid successors. During its first eighty years, the Ming court regularly and explicitly addressed the Chinggisids as both history and contemporary rivals in its effort to legitimate its position both at home and abroad. Such a strategy was predicated on the idea that the Chinggisids still mattered to a broad audience, from close neighbors like Korea, Jurchens, and Mongols, to more distant polities such as Hami, Turfan, and Tibet, all the way to Eastern Moghulistan and the Timurids.

Cursus Chinees voor Alumni

Chinees voor Alumni!

Is je Chinees wat sleets geraakt?

De cursus Chinees voor alumni van de opleiding Chinees (Sinologie, TCC, Chinastudies) gaat weer van start!

Geef je snel op — liefst vóór donderdag 11 september 2014, 17:00!

China seminar 4 June: Alliances and strategic networks: Tibetan Buddhist lamas and the Qing court

China seminar

June 4, 2014, 15:15 —— Arsenaal, room 001

Yangdon Dhondup (SOAS)

Alliances and strategic networks: Tibetan Buddhist lamas and the Qing court

The relationship between the Manchu court and Tibetan Buddhists was based on the “patron-priest” model. The emperor acted as the patron and protector of Tibetan Buddhism in exchange for religious advice and guidance by Buddhist Lamas. Whether genuinely believing in Tibetan Buddhism or motivated by geopolitical considerations, the Manchu emperors were generous patrons of Tibetan Buddhism. In this presenta¬tion, I look at how Tibetan Buddhists from east Tibet tried to establish a “patron-priest” relationship with the Manchu court and explore their motivation for doing so.

China seminar 21 May: The Communication and Empire Project

China seminar

May 21, 2014, 15:15 —— Arsenaal, room 001

Hilde De Weerdt (Leiden University)

The Communication and Empire Project:
Digital and comparative perspectives on middle-period Chinese history

“Communication and Empire: Chinese Empires in Comparative Perspective” is a five-year
ERC-funded project based at Leiden University. Project members research the importance
of political communication and communication networks in the maintenance and fragmentation
of political entities focusing on Chinese history (1000-1300) and medieval Europe (1000-1500).
This talk sets out the project’s main objectives and reports on the outcomes of the first two years
of comparative historical research as well as on the development of digital text analysis and
visualization tools for large corpora of classical Chinese texts.

For more information see or

one more time!

June 4, 2014: Yangdon Dhondup (SOAS) “Alliances and strategic networks:
Tibetan Buddhist lamas and the Qing court”

China seminar 7 May: Civil society concept as a tool for making the other: the case of China

China seminar

7 May, 2014, 15:15    ——   Arsenaal, room 001 (Arsenaalstraat 1, Leiden)


Taru Salmenkari (Leiden University)


Civil society concept as a tool for making the other: the case of China


The application of the concept of ‘civil society’ to China in Western academic studies is one devise for “othering” China. Despite of its vivid grassroots social life (categorized as minjian in China), academic treatises do not merit the term civil society for China. At best, civil society in China is claimed to be “nascent,” far from a mature civil society. At worst it is said to be nonexistent. This paper analyzes the reasons for the different usages of the term for China and for “the West,” including the use of the term civil society when researchers actually search for oppositional movements and the failure of separating trajectories of economic liberalization and of associational life. This definitional deficiency causes problems when it is reflected back to Chinese academic research and associational life. Too narrow definitions hinder the development of Chinese civil society, when many phenomena common in Western civil societies are defined as undesirable in China.



May 21, 2014: Hilde De Weerdt (Leiden U): “The Communication and Empire Project: Digital and comparative perspectives on middle-period Chinese history”

June 4, 2014: Yangdon Dhondup (SOAS) “Alliances and strategic networks: Tibetan Buddhist lamas and the Qing court”

China Seminar 30 April: Chau Yung-mau An Assessment of Local Politics and Its Prospects in Taiwan

China seminar

April 30, 2014, 15:15

Arsenaal, room 001


Chao Yung-mau   (National Taiwan University and IIAS, Leiden)


An assessment of local politics and its prospects in Taiwan

Since 1950, Taiwan has built a very early and successful local autonomy. However, local politics in Taiwan is still suffering from patron-clientele politics, black gold politics, privilege politics, closed politics, power monopoly politics, informal politics and corruption. Now local politics in Taiwan is also exploiting a political evolution, an open and civil political system, decentralization, and a central-local partnership system. Those development are helpful to build public awareness in public affairs and promoting civil participation.


May 7, 2014: Taru Salmenkari (Leiden U): “Civil society concept as a tool for making the other: the case of China”

May 21, 2014: Hilde De Weerdt (Leiden U): “The Communication and Empire Project: Digital and comparative perspectives on middle-period Chinese history”