China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Competing for China: The Shifting of Chinoiserie to Chinese Studies in the Nineteenth-Century

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Johnson, Mezzanine Level

The paper centers on the dynamics inherited by the competitiveness of scholarly endeavors in the era of making new Chinese knowledge in the West in the early 19th century. The French and British were longtime rivals. The rivalry between their Sinological development was as bitter and acrimonious as historians could expect to find in any episodes in Anglo-French history: French setup the first Chinese professorship in Europe in 1824. With a long tradition of Chinese studies and abundant resources, French liaised the purchase of the valuable Robert Morrison collection when the British dismissed its value. After the Opium War, French Sinologist spread the scandal that Britain had been betrayed by their interpreters. The British, knowing that they were the latecomers in the field, swallowed the humiliation momentarily. They then set about learning from the French Sinology but also devising new methodologies of studying the philological, literal and phonological dimension of Chinese language. Drawing from myriad undisclosed historical records of pioneering Chinese Scholars such as Robert Morrison, Sir George Staunton, Julien Stanislas, this paper unveils an untold intellectual moment about how academicians overcome their respective difference in academic training, religious belief, or national identity, to strive for academic excellence. The paper argues that the real race was about the virtues of new scholarship in the wake of the dismantling of the old European Chinoiserie after 1842 when the Western world started to have real contact with China.

Uganda Sze Pui Kwan

Nanyang Technological University, Not Applicable, Singapore

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