skip to primary navigationskip to content

Lent Term 2015

Department of East Asian Studies

Postgraduate Research Seminars

Academical Year 2014-2015


Please join us for the DEAS Postgraduate Research Seminars, designed for graduate students in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean studies to regularly meet, discuss your ideas, and present your projects – all in front of an interested and supportive audience! Some sessions will be period-specific while others will be region-centered, but all are intended to bring together DEAS graduate students to talk about your research in friendly surroundings while consuming wine and nibbles!

The Seminars are generously sponsored by the Chinese Studies Group of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

Unless otherwise noted, seminars meet on Tuesdays in the Rushmore Room, St Catharine’s College.

The seminar starts at 5:00pm and ends at 6:30pm

For questions, or if you’re interested in presenting or organizing, please contact Rudolph Ng ().  Extra sessions may be added during 2015.

Lent Term, 2015

  • Tuesday, 20th January, 2015

    Note: This session will take place in the Boys Smith Room in the Fisher Building at St John's College, to be followed by a formal dinner of presenters at St John's College. Limited number of seats may become available for non-presenters. Please send a message () for details.

    Rethinking the Origin of the tujing 圖經
    SUN Yingying, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies
    (Visiting student from the University of Washington)

    Several manuscripts titled with tujing were discovered among Dunhuang manuscripts. As a precursor of later fangzhi 方志writing, tujing has been considered to be developed from early geographical writings such as the shan hai jing. Combining with recent research on the idea of tu 圖 in ancient China, as part of my dissertation on study of Dunhuang tujing manuscripts of the early Tang, I propose in this chapter that the tujing type of writing develops from the ancient maps/illustrations/tu rather than geographical writings/texts.

    Local Identity and Regionalism in Sichuan during the Han dynasty 
    Hajni ELIAS, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    Pictorial reliefs unearthed from tombs in Sichuan, in particular Chengdu city and the Chengdu Plain region, are noted for their depictions of scenes of daily life in a naturalistic style, rarely seen elsewhere on contemporaneous tomb reliefs in China. While a number of factors contributed to the birth of this distinct style, the strength of regional identity, popular sentiment and local pride triggered by Sichuan’s unique geography, and the role of nature and natural landscape in the lives of its inhabitants all warrant close examination. Depictions of natural landscapes reflect how people perceived their cosmos and the world. Mountains, rivers, high and low lands moulded people’s daily lives and were key to the shaping of their thinking and culture. Through the examination of material culture and textual sources I wish to introduce some of the key factors that contributed to the shaping of Sichuan’s unique regional identity.

    Ishinpô and Language
    Mujeeb KHAN, PhD Candidate of Japanese Studies

    Language plays an important role in the construction of knowledge and Ishinpô is no exception. This talk investigates the role language plays in the construction of Ishinpô from the perspective of its compiler, Tanba no Yasuyori, and from that of its place as a work of Japanese medicine from the middle of the Heian period. 

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-01-20-1

  • Tuesday, 17th February, 2015

    The Siberian Internment, the Red Purge, and the Making of the New Japan (1945-56)
    Sherzod MUMINOV, PhD Candidate in East Asian Studies

    On August 23, 1945, three days after the Japanese Kwantung Army surrendered to the Soviets in northeast China, Joseph Stalin signed a secret order 'to select up to 500,000 Japanese prisoners-of-war physically fit to work in the conditions of the Far East and Siberia,” and to send them to the USSR. The unsuspecting Japanese were put into cattle trains and transported, along with many inanimate spoils of the war such as food and equipment, across the Soviet-Manchurian border and into labour camps spread across the vast Soviet territory. There they stayed from several months to eleven years, making up for the numbers lost to the war, and rebuilding the war-ravaged Soviet Union. But not only their bodies, but also their minds were put to use; in the camps, the internees underwent a meticulous re-education program aimed at turning them into good communists. The last ship with repatriates reached Japan in December 1956, and more than 600,000 Japanese captives had been through Soviet camps throughout the internment. One in ten never returned to Japan, losing their lives to extreme cold, malnutrition and back-breaking work. But the returnees' travails did not end even when they were finally back in Japan, for they had arrived just in time for the Red Purge - the persecution of the Japan Communist Party and other leftist and communist sympathisers in the increasingly anti-communist Japan.

    I view the 'Siberian Internment’ as an important lens to reconsider the immediate postwar decade in Japan - a period of chaos, struggle and uncertainty. I argue that the Japanese returnees from the Soviet Union, many of whom returned to Japan at the same time as the Cold War reached Asian shores, were assigned numerous identities and performed varying roles in the new, ‘peaceful and democratic’ society. They were the most immediate witnesses of the communist enemy; at the same time, their ideological re-education meant they were marginalised as potential communists and spies. As a result, in Japan they came to occupy the grey zones between hero and coward, ‘us’ and ’them,’ ‘democratic' and ‘communist.’ Their story is also the history of transition from Empire to nation-state, from militarism to democracy, from the Japan of the old to the new, pacifist, and anti-communist Japan.

    The Global Coolie Trade between China and Latin America
    Rudolph NG, PhD Candidate

    In the mid-nineteenth century, the abolition of slavery and increasing demand for agricultural products led to an acute shortage of labor for plantations worldwide. When the search for a massive supply of labor failed in Europe and the Americas, some planters eventually came to Asia, where they began the so-called “coolie trade” – shipping off laborers known as coolies from Asia to their plantations overseas. Focusing on the route from China to Cuba and Peru, this presentation traces the creation, expansion, and ultimate collapse of this trade. It further examines the broader historiographical implications of such human trafficking for the transnational labor movement in the nineteenth century and its social significance for our world today.

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-02-17-1 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-02-17-2

  • Tuesday, 3rd March, 2015

    Justifying the Pursuit of Benefit in pre-imperial China: Economic Discourses in the Mozi and the Mencius
    FU Yang, PhD Candidate in Chinese Studies

    Any attempt to write about the history of early China faces the problem of anachronism. This is especially the case when dealing with how “economic” issues were perceived. This presentation argues that such topics should be investigated from the perspective of intellectual history. By focusing on texts for their own sake, one should not rely too much on presumptions drawn from the economics. Instead, it is the genuine concern of each text that the historian must seek to unravel. I will first introduce the current state of research related to my project, and elucidate in more detail the points made above. Then I will focus on economic discourses in the Mozi and the Mencius, showing how the argument of benefit is elaborated, and how their arguments about the pursuit of benefit are linked so as to shape the debate over the pursuit and use of wealth in pre-imperial China. 

    Mr Empty Kidney: Imagining Sexuality, Health and the Body in Edo Popular Literature
    Dr Angelika KOCHDirector of Studies at Downing College

    'Health' was a widespread cultural association of sex in early modern Japan, propagated by health cultivation manuals and other medical texts. This talk seeks to explore the transformations of such medical notions of 'sexual health' in popular literature by focusing on the concept of 'Depleted Kidneys' (jinkyo), a form of sexual exhaustion. Analysing examples from popular fiction, in particular Jippensha Ikku's yellow-cover book Hara no uchi yōjō shuron, we will consider how medical knowledge was mediated and negotiated in popular discourses, shifting the perspective from expert medical opinions to lay perceptions of health and the body.  

    EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-03-03-2 EAS Postgraduate Seminar 2015-03-03-2

For further information, contact:

Rudolph Ng