Category Archives: 2017/18: Caring for the Past

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.