Universiteit Leiden

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The Yangtze and the Rhine: A historical conference

Thursday 23 May 2019 - Saturday 25 May 2019
This event is part of a three day conference in Rotterdam and Leiden (23, 24 and 25 May).
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden
Pieterskerkhof 6

About the conference

After a first meeting in Shanghai in October 2017, we found that we have similar academic interests, as both rivers have and had similar problems. Nonetheless, comparing aspects of the history of the two rivers and the ports at their estuaries is not as easy as thought. Therefore, in this second conference, we try to find a way to come to a better by making sessions on a number of topics

  1. Economic/business aspects: This includes:
  2. Labour/Social History
  3. Cultural/religious aspects
  4. Political/juridical aspects
  5. Environmental aspects


Prof. Ben Wubs (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Prof. Hein Klemann (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Prof. Cátia Antunes (Leiden University).


  • Erasmus School for History, Culture and Communication 
  • Fudan University Shanghai
  • Leiden University
  • Maritiem Museum Rotterdam
  • N.W. Posthumus Institute
  • Port Authority Rotterdam
  • Rotterdam Centre for Modern Maritime History

Program Leiden University (24 May, day 2)

09:00-12:00    Morning session: Political/juridical aspects of river societies

  1. Modern market relations and its institutions
  2. Dike building, river regulation, water management or canalization

Presentations by:

  • Dr. Nils Disco (Technical University Twente): Regulation of transnational rivers (Maas, Rhine and Scheldt).
  • Dr. Joep Schenk (Utrecht University) Political regulation of International Rivers.
  • Prof.Wu Tao (Sun Yat-sen University,  Zhuhai) 吴滔: 华洋杂处下的西津渡: 19世纪京口江岸区域的社会秩序Xijin Ferry under a mixed society of Chinese and Foreigners: the social order of riverbank area of Jingkou in the 19th century
  • Prof. Xie Shi (Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou) : 17世纪江南基层水利的社会与政治语境A study of local water conservancy in social and political context in seventeenth century lower Yangtze Delta

10:30-11:00 Coffee, tea etcetera

12:30-14:30 Lunch and tour through the Asian Library Leiden University

14:30-15:30 Key Note:

Prof. Petra van Dam (Free University of Amsterdam):

Amphibious cultures along rivers: coping with flooding in the organic period.

15:30-16:00    Coffee, tea etcetera

16:00-18:00 Afternoon Session: Cultural and religious aspects of the river

  1. Religions or nationalistic river cults and their impact
  2. Songs, poems and paintings about the river and its messages

Presentations by:

  • Dr. Pia Nordblom (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) Rhine romanticism and tourism since the end of 18th century.
  • Prof. Leonard Blussé (Leiden University) Lee boards on Dutch and Chinese river boats
  • Prof. Chen Yao (Xiamen University, Amoy) 陈瑶: 河流脉动长江中游的木帆船与市场网络(1550-1850) River Stringing Markets: Junks and Markets Networking in the Middle Yangtze River, 1550-1850
  • Prof. Wang Jian (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai) 王健:棉业、海运与元末以来江南地区的黄道婆信仰Cotton Industry, Maritime Transportation and Huang Daopo Belief in Lower Yangtze Region since Late Yuan Dynasty

19:00 Dinner in Kaag Sociëteit         

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