Chinese Studies

Chinese History and Society I (Prof. Vogel)

The Chair for Chinese History and Society is held by Prof. Dr. Hans Ulrich Vogel since 1994. Foci in research and teaching have been, and still are, the social and economic history of the early and mid-Qing period, the history of science and technology in traditional China and Marco Polo Research. Presently Prof. Vogel and his collaborators are carrying out an international research project dealing with the Jesuit China mission’s translation of Western science, technology and medicine to late Ming China.

Le livre des merveilles, 1410, showing here Khublai Khan riding a palanquin carried by elephants while hunting. See / Bibliothèque nationale, fr. 2810, fol. 42v.

Apart from many other genres of primary sources that are taken into account, it is particularly archival documents in Chinese and Manchu that are of crucial importance in the chair’s research activities. Solid text-critical and philological approaches are an indispensable precondition for a reliable historical interpretation of past events and discourses. Therefore, the chair attaches great importance to to the mastering of Classical Chinese as well as documentary Chinese, i.e. the written language that was used in late imperial bureaucratic communication. This finds its reflection also in student instruction which aims at integrating research into teaching.
Research work at the chair combines micro-historical analyses with macro-historical and macro-sociological approaches, with comparative investigations on China and Europe (keyword: Great Divergence) and East-West intercivilisational encounters at its centre, and on the background of the history of early globalisation.

Rotary-fan winnowing machines for separating grain from chaff, photographed by Hans Ulrich Vogel at the former Institute for the History of Natural Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Zhongguo kexueyuan Ziran kexueshi yanjiusuo 中国科学院自然科学史研究所), Beijing, 2001.