IZO Events

Apr 17 2023

Lecture series "Richard Wilhelm Lecture" with Prof. Dr. Fan-sen Wang

We would like to cordially invite you to the lecture series "Richard Wilhelm Lecture" with Prof. Dr. Fan-sen Wang (Academia Sinica) entitled "The Birth of Modern China. Politics and History", which is organised by the Sinology Department, the China Institute and the Friends of the University

The lectures will take place on 24 April 2023 and on 26 April 2023 from 6 pm at Campus Westend and are open to all interested parties. Prior registration is not necessary. 

/24 April 2023, 18–20:00 c.t., CAS 1.811/

This lecture seeks to conceptualize a major shift in Chinese utopian   thought with the division of backward-looking and forward-looking utopias. In the wake of the 1898 Reform Movement, a new utopianism that envisioned the destruction of existing social bonds took shape in the /Datongshu/ by Kang Youwei (1858–1927). Inspired by the novel concept of evolution, Kang's utopianism was future-oriented, as he assumed that material and scientific progress could only be achieved by abolishing the Three Bond and Five Relations defined in the Confucian Classics. His idea was a radical break from the traditional Chinese utopian thoughts that were based on ideals to return to ancient morality, as exemplified by stories of “hungry country"—a novelistic utopia where people could withstand poverty and hunger but remain moral—that were popular in the Qing Dynasty. Over the course of just seventy or eighty years, the utopia of morality and poverty found in the hungry country stories gave way to the utopia outlined in the /Datongshu/. With a scientistic belief in human agency, the new utopian thinkers imagined that the social world could be broken down into factors and reassembled in their desired manners. Their future-oriented utopianism exerted enormous influence on modern Chinese reformists and revolutionaries, including Mao Zedong. My categorization not only captures the conceptual transformation from traditional to modern China, but also complements the existing analyses of utopian thoughts, including Zhang Hao's active and passive utopias, and Jay Winter's major and minor utopias.

/26 April 2023, 18–20:00 c.t., IG 1.314/


Amidst the major transition in views of historical evidence in the 1920s, a new model of archaeological research emerged along with the founding of Division of Archaeology at the Institute of History and Philology. Advocates of this new archaeology, represented by Li Chi and Fu Ssu-nien, contended that a modern and scientific approach to   research should be centred upon excavation as a process of comprehensive knowledge, rather than mere collection of ancient texts and artefacts. The new archaeologists were deeply discontent with traditional practices of palaeography and epigraphy, which, according to them, narrowly focused on texts connected to the Confucian classics, paid little attention to material condition of artefacts, and thus failed to achieve a holistic understanding of the past. They also distinguished their project from earlier attempts to reform research on ancient China with Western knowledge, such as Luo Zhenyu and Wang Guowei who employed a method of “twofold evidence" by comparing inscriptions on oracle bones and bronze artefacts with traditional written texts. The new vision of archaeological research was put into practice in the subsequent years after 1928, when the Institute of History and Philology launched the project to excavate the ancient Shang Dynasty capital (Yin Xu) in Anyang, Henan. For modern Chinese researchers, the Yin Xu excavation project defined what could be considered legitimate archaeological evidence, and therefore constituted the canon of modern Chinese archaeology. 

About the Speaker

/PROF. WANG FAN-SEN/ is a historian specializing in the cultural-intellectual history of early modern and modern China (circa 1500 to 1930). He has written broadly on Chinese intellectual history in the last few centuries. His most important works include /Chang T'ai-yen and His World/ (1985), /Fu Ssu-nien: A Life in Chinese History and Politics/ (2000), /The Genealogy of Modern Chinese Thought/ (2003), and /The Historian and the Historiography in Modern China/ (2008), among others. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1992. He has taught at universities throughout Taiwan, including National Taiwan University and National Tsing Hua University. Prof. Wang has been Academician of Academia Sinica since 2004 and served as its Vice President and Acting President. He is currently serving as the Chancellor of Taiwan Comprehensive University System. Prof. Wang Fan-sen has been the recipient of many distinguished domestic and international awards. In 2005, he was elected as Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of the United Kingdom.