Conference | Workshop IIAS
Printed Books and Knowledge about Necessities and Luxuries in Early Modern China and Japan
- Monday 27 May 2019 - Tuesday 28 May 2019
2311 GJ Leiden
The Agency of Printed Books
In early modern East Asia, things, people and ideas circulated and travelled at increasing speed. Things became sites for learning, challenging existing paradigms of producing and circulating knowledge. The problem is that a thing can only exist in one place at one time. In order to study it, it needs to be registered, reproduced and recontextualised through images, texts, and other media. As agents of popular learning, printed books extended the field of knowledge-production to sections of society that were not necessarily able to acquire knowledge first-hand. In addition, knowledge produced by educated elites was communicated through prints, creating opportunities for dynamic interactions among diverse communities of learning. Within this context, this workshop explores how printed books packaged knowledge about things, thereby actively contributing to shaping ideas about things and their relations in nature and beyond. How can we take account of the agency of printed books in shaping knowledge about things? How can we use digitised sources effectively in this? One of the premises of this workshop is that nature and culture are not diametrically opposed categories, and this will be demonstrated with presentations on selected case studies of necessities such as cotton and staple foods as well as luxuries such as incense and silk.