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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Online via Zoom
Event date: 
Monday, 8 August, 2022 - 00:00 to Tuesday, 9 August, 2022 - 23:55

Zoom registration link • Workshop Webpage

If there is one element that can be argued to unite all human civilisations throughout history, it is that humans have always relied on animals to survive. In China, as elsewhere, oxen were essential for ploughing, horses essential for transport, meat essential (to some extent) for nourishment. Animals, arguably, have shaped human histories, thinking, inventions, and societies just as much as humans have.

One crucial aspect of human-animal relations in Chinese history that requires further exploration is that of boundaries. The human-animal relationship immediately crosses a species threshold and, as recent events have shown, this is not necessarily just a source of companionship but can also induce the exchange of disease and pathogens. Equally, humans re-define spaces like the home or frontiers based on the animals residing there, and even re-formulate what it is to be human in light of real and imagined interactions with animals.

This workshop aims to explore the theme of animals and conceptual boundaries in China, and in doing so will pose three key questions:

  • How did animals challenge conceptualisations of boundaries in a Chinese context?
  • What reactions did these subversions or transgressions incite in human observers?
  • Are animals the essential criterion for humans to define boundaries?

This workshop is jointly organised by the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge and the Chinese Studies Institute at Friedrich-Alexander-University. It will take place on the 8th and 9th of August 2022 from 2pm – 6pm UK Time on Zoom, involving panellists from a range of institutions and specialties.

8th August 2022 - Animal Imagery and Interactions

2pm – 4pm UK Time: Panel 1, Animal Allegories and Imagery

  • Rebecca Doran (University of Miami) “Animals, Dreams, and Altered States in Medieval Narratives”
  • Anne Schmiedl (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg) “From Hunted Prey to Symbols of Life: Historical and Mythological Rabbits in China and Japan”
  • Raffaela Rettinger (Julius-Maximilians-University) “How To Earn Your Stripes: The Practice of Tattooing Animal Motifs on Human Skin and Its Social Implications in Ancient and Premodern China”

4:10pm – 6pm UK Time: Panel 2, Defining Animals

  • Kelsey Granger (University of Cambridge) “‘Without a Dog to Bark at Night in Warning’: Dogs in the Creation and Patrolling of Boundaries”
  • Stuart Young (Bucknell University) “Silkworm-Human Relations in Middle Period Chinese Buddhism”
  • Daniel Burton-Rose (Wake Forest University) “Crawling Across Representational Mediums and Taxonomic Classifications: Insect Subjects in 16th century Paintings, Manuscripts, and Printed Books”

9th August 2022 Managing and Caring for Animals

2pm – 4pm UK Time: Panel 3, Animal Husbandry and Administration

  • Noa Grass (Independent Scholar) “The Frontier is Here: Horses and Horse Culture in the Early Ming Court”
  • Shih-hsun Liu (National Palace Museum) “Food, Medicine and Law: Eating Donkeys in Chinese Society from Medieval China to the Qing Dynasty”
  • Chunghao Kuo (Taipei Medical University) “The Voyages of Eels: The Characteristics, Breeding Evolution, and Consumption of Eels in Modern Taiwan”

4:10pm – 6pm UK Time: Panel 4, Treating Animals: Medicine and Rights

  • Renée Krusche (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg) “Livestock – Part of More Than One World: Veterinary Approaches to Livestock in Republican China”
  • Forrest McSweeney (University of Illinois-Champaign) “Military Medicine and the Causational Feedback Loop between Animal and Human Institutional Medicine in Imperial China”
  • Roundtable Future Trajectories for Chinese Animal Studies