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Vortrag: Inventing Radicalism in 17th Century China: Tang Chen and his Modern Fate

29.10.2018 | 18:00 c.t.

Hsiung Ping-chen (Hongkong)


This talk is about a 17th century Chinese provincial man Tang Chen (1630-1704), about his mostly failed life and some of his odd ideas in obscurity. These, by a series of twists and turns, had been recovered and hailed as source of inspiration for radical reforms in the late 19th century and for revolutionary fever during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s and 70’s. The talk will explore this corky guy as well as the immediate circumstances for his utterance of political, social, and economic views (that “all emperors are bandits”, “women are better than men”, and “money making is all that matters” and so on). By a stroke of luck, one or two of the 50 copies of his incomplete writings survived in a rare book collection in the Lower Yangtze region. Private collections lend China’s mid-19th century statecraft-thinkers an instigating voice in their desperate search for a complete overhaul of the country’s traditions to make way for a brave new future.

Viewed through these layers of discourses now retold, it helps to show that the Chinese soil was never short of extremist ideas. It also provides a dramatic, vivid case for why people need to take a longer view in understanding contemporary Chinese affairs. Why are people not closer to home, for instance, so surprised of “the rise of China“? Because they realise that wild characters filled with strong ideas had always been around, I would argue. How long is long enough, to take another question up, for us to appreciate the twists and turns in history? We can certainly pick this issue up after considering the career of Tang Chen over three centuries plus as his turned out to be “critical voice” at central stage.

Hsiung Ping-chen is Professor of History, and Director of the Taiwan Research Center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts at The Chinese University of Hong Kong from 2009 to 2011, and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Taiwan Central University from 2004 to 2007. Hsiung has served as Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taipei since 1990, and K.T. Li Chair at Central University in Taiwan since 2006. She holds a B.A. in History from Taiwan University, an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Brown University, and an S.M. in Population Studies and International Health from the School of Public Health at Harvard University. Her research interest lies in the areas of women’s and children’s health, gender and family relations, and intellectual and social history of early modern/modern China and Europe. She served as Director of the Humanities Centre at the Central University in Taiwan, and played an instrumental role in founding the interdisciplinary group ‘Ming-Ch’ing Studies’ at the Academia Sinica. Over the years, Professor Hsiung has held visiting professorships at many leading academic institutions in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, including UCLA, Cornell University, University of Michigan, Freie Universitat Berlin, and Keio University, Japan.

Website: www.pingchenhsiung.com/

Zeit & Ort

29.10.2018 | 18:00 c.t.

Neubau "Holzlaube", 2.2051