Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Early Modernity Matters

This research network aims to promote cross-regional collaboration in the field of cultural history in early modern Asia at the intersections of visual, material, textual and aural culture.

Fan Lin


In order to break away from Eurocentric models of early modernity that mapped a Hegelian trajectory on narratives of the history and cultures of Asia, we propose a broader temporal frame from the tenth to the twentieth century to explore new ways to account for the complex early modernities in various cultures.

Suggested topics include the dynamic fields of agency of things and people, intermingled processes of knowledge production, driving forces for new cultural products and phenomena, new ways to understand nature (animals and plants), and the formation of discourses and counter discourses.


This academic year, we will organize a roundtable in November 2019 and a workshop in May 2020 titled “Why Early Modernity Matters?” This is an “old” question but it defines the future trajectory of research network and opens up the dialogues across regional specializations. We encourage participation of PhD students.

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