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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Rooms 8 & 9, Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Event date: 
Wednesday, 29 January, 2020 - 17:15 to 18:30

China Research Seminar talk given by Professor Romain Graziania, Ecole Normale Superieure and the University of Geneva

This talk examines attitudes evidenced in pre-imperial and Han sources (ritual compendia, historical chronicles, legal codes, administrative texts, and philosophical literature) towards visually repulsive individuals, in particular those who have undergone a penal mutilation. We start from the perception of bodily harm in the light of legal and ritual norms and the moral imperative of physical integrity, and then set out to analyze the concrete outcomes of mutilation visited upon certain kinds of offenders. Finally, we focus on three stories in the Zhuangzi, whose imaginary dialogues illustrate the way their authors try to change the social perception of outcasts in a context that was clearly adverse to their possible rehabilitation.

Romain Graziani is professor in Chinese studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the University of Geneva. He is the author of several books, articles and book chapters on early Chinese intellectual history. His recent publications include: Philosophy through Fiction. An introduction to Early Chinese Taoist Thought (Bloomsbury, 2020), L’Usage du Vide. Essai sur l’intelligence de l’action, de l’Europe à la Chine (Gallimard, 2019), Biographical Dictionary of Early Medieval China ((co-author; 2020, Les Belles-Lettres), Legal Mutilation and Moral Exclusion: Disputations on Integrity and Deformity in Early China (T’oung Pao, 2020).


Professor Hans van de Ven FBA: