A Short Note on Working in the Beijing Municipal Archive

by Elisabeth Forster (Research Assistant, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)

The Beijing Municipal Archive (Beijing shi dang’an guan 北京市档案馆) stores, as the name suggests, materials pertaining to Beijing as a city. It has materials on both the period before 1949 and after. Arunabh Ghosh has already written a very informative review of this archive  on Dissertation Review, based on his experiences in 2011: http://dissertationreviews.org/archives/643. Therefore I will only give updated information on the aspects that I found changed, when I visited the archive in February and March 2018.

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A Short Guide to Visiting the Capital Library of China

by Z. Lu (Researcher, CSMC, Universität Hamburg)

The Capital Library of China (Shoudu tushuguan 首都图书馆), whose origins trace back to over a century ago, is one of the premier public libraries in China. While serving the general public, it is also home to a very rich collection of premodern books and materials from the Republican era, ranging from fiction and drama of the Ming and Qing to local materials related to Beijing – including a comprehensive collection of gazetteers. Below are a few tips on using two of the main reading rooms: the Historical Texts Reading Room (Lishi wenxian yuelan shi 历史文献阅览室), and the Beijing Local Collection (Beijing difang wenxian yuelan 北京地方文献阅览).

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Traditional Hui Mosques in Northern China

by Candice Del Medico (PhD student at the Université Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne, recipient of a fieldwork grant from the EFEO)

The presence of Muslims in China is a phenomenon which seems unknown to the general public. However, today there are more than twenty million Muslims in Chinese territory. The early implantation of Islam was accompanied by the construction of a new type of architecture that had never been seen in China before: the mosques, or qingzhensi (清真寺) in Chinese.

There are currently more than forty thousand mosques in China and some were erected as early as the 14th century. These oldest mosques are the traditional Hui-style mosques.

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A Reader’s Guide to the Shanghai Library and the Shanghai Municipal Archives

by Henrike Rudolph (Research Assistant, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Shanghai has been an important center of political and cultural life throughout the 20th century and is, therefore, quite naturally a popular destination for researchers working on Republican China and PRC history. However, one can’t help but feel that Shanghai’s popularity among historians also has something to do with the convenience and friendly service culture of the Shanghai Library and the Shanghai Municipal Archives. Not only do they have very impressive collections, the staff at both institutions are also exceptionally helpful (especially in comparison to other local archives or libraries in China) making it just a great place to do research.
This is a short visitor guide for those not yet familiar with these institutions so that you will not waste any time and can get your hands on documents and books as quickly as possible.

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Chinese-European Lecture Series 2017/18

Caring for the Past: Antiquarianism and Patrimonialization Practices in China, Europe and the World

The lecture series is organized by the newly created European Research Centre for Chinese Studies (Beijing), jointly formed by the École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) and Germany’s Max Weber Stiftung (MWS), and continues the cooperation with the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences (IHNS) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Scholars from China and abroad will be invited to present their research on how people from different periods have cared for the past. We will bring together contributions from various fields of research to allow for a comprehensive comparative perspective: The historical periods covered will range from ancient to contemporary and will embrace fields such as history, archeology, art-history, anthropology and architecture.

Our starting point is to analyze three basic human responses in dealing with the past: the desire to preserve, to restore or to destroy. These basic responses may seem unremarkable to us. However, considering the specific historical and cultural backgrounds in which they occurred, the question is: what meaning did this have to people at the time?

The objects of study include historical buildings as well as other artifacts (manuscripts, printed books and other cultural relics). At the same time, we also want to link this to the contemporary question of how to understand the creation of cultural heritage: for example, in the making of museums.

We essentially want to explore how the concept of “the past” has been considered during different historical periods, in order to gain a better understanding of the significance and value attributed to the remains of the past in a specific historical and cultural setting. Finally, we hope to make a contribution to understanding how the various phenomena related to the, nowadays pervasive, notion of “cultural heritage” (especially in China) have emerged.

探知往昔、发现过去——尚古风潮与遗产化实践的中比较

欧洲汉学研究中心(北京)由法国远东学院和德国马克斯韦伯基金会联合组建,今年继续与中科院自然科学史研究所合作,为大家带来新一轮讲座,我们将研究不同时代的人是怎样感知“过去”的。我们集合不同领域的研究,构成一种全景式比较。从时间上,既包括古代也包括现代;从学科范围上,将从历史学、考古学、艺术史学、建筑学和人类学入手,全面梳理这一问题。

这个系列将从人类对待“过去”的三种基本行为方式——保存、修复和破坏——来分析这个问题。这些基本行为表面上是非常普遍的,但实际上,在行为发生时的历史和文化时代背景下,它们对当时的人来说具有什么样的意义呢?

关注的对象不仅限于建筑,还包括各种遗物(写本、刻本和其它文物),我们也会聚焦于在当代用什么手段去理解制造“遗产”这一问题,比如建造博物馆。

我们将要从根本上探索使“古代”这个概念在不同的历史时期是怎样得到体现的,进一步了解过去的痕迹在特定的文化历史背景下有什么意义和价值。最终希望大家认识到,今天对我们来说习以为常(尤其是在当代中国)的文化遗产的各种表现是怎样产生的。