Universiteit Leiden

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Is ‘Great Ming’ a Dynasty?

Wednesday 9 November 2022
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Vossius room

Abstract: Recent historical debates around the idea of ‘dynasty’, and its value as an interpretative device across histories and geographies, have agreed on the necessity to “historicize and problematize” the concept. Alongside those of ancient Egypt, Chinese ‘dynasties’ are paradigmatic in European writing from the Enlightenment onwards, and the word remains firmly associated in popular as well as professional consciousness with China’s past. There is scope, however, for another and perhaps more rigorous look at just how the Chinese case fits into any larger typology, and at what the Chinese terminology from one specific period might contribute to the wider historiographical debate. In posing the question ‘Is “Great Ming” a dynasty?’, this seminar aims to open up the question to scrutiny and contributions from scholars with the widest possible range of expertise, and to promote exchange across historical specialisms.

Bio: Craig Clunas is Professor Emeritus of the History of Art, University of Oxford, and the author of numerous works on Chinese art and culture, specifically of the Ming period (1368-1644). These include: Superfluous Things: Social Status and Material Culture in Early Modern China (1991); Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures in Ming China, 1368-1644 (2007); Screen of Kings: Royal Art and Power in Ming China (2013). In 2014 he was co-curator of the major exhibition, “Ming: 50 Years that Changed China” at the British Museum. He is currently working on a history of the Ming imperial family.

Respondent: Jeroen Duindam

This event is sponsored by the Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation.

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