Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Translating China: Dutch Sinologist Henri Borel

This study will investigate the role of Henri Jean Francois Borel (1869-1933) as an ‘interpreter of China'.

This study will investigate the role of Henri Jean Francois Borel (1869-1933) as an ‘interpreter of China,’ how he represented China to his Dutch readers, how he represented the Chinese in the Dutch East Indies, what the influence of his writing on Chinese Studies in the Netherlands was and how his writing related to other discourse on China in the Netherlands and the reception of his work. Borel wrote extensively on China, and as a result also developed ideas about how the West should better understand China.

By analyzing his works on China as cultural translation, I will examine Borel’s role as ‘orientalist’, in the sense of how much Borel engaged in ‘orientalizing the Orient’, in Edward Said’s words. This research will be revealing of Dutch discourses on translating China and will contribute to the understanding of Borel’s role in building an image of China in the Netherlands of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century and his influence on the development of Chinese Studies.

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