Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University Holds First International Youth Scholar Forum on China Studies

[Source]    Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University [Time]    2019-06-11 13:24:22 

From June 5th to June 6th, the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University in Israel, together with Tel Aviv University and Renmin University of China, held an international forum for young scholars on the theme of “Exploring Ancient China”. Nearly 20 professors and doctoral students from Renmin University of China, Tel Aviv University in Israel, Cornell University, Oregon University, Tennessee University, North Carolina University, Madrid Autonomous University in Spain and Heidelberg University in Germany participated in the conference.

Wu Yang, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, said that Sinology studies in China and abroad had different perspectives and paths. Such an academic conference could promote mutual understanding and exchanges between the two sides, especially among young scholars. It was not only conducive to the internationalization of “China Studies”, but also helpful to the promotion of “China Studies” in China to the world and the introduction of “China Studies” abroad to China.

Wu Yang delivering a speech

Asaf Goldschmidt, Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute, said that this activity was another academic achievement of the Confucius Institute and posed a direction of further efforts. He hoped to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the two countries through such high-level academic activities.

Asaf Goldschmidt making a speech

Ori Sela, Director of the East Asia Department of Tel Aviv University, said he is pleased to see more frequent exchanges between Renmin University of China and Tel Aviv University, and hoped to continue to expand areas of joint research and deepen cooperation in the future.

During the conference, Aron Shai, a renowned Israeli sinologist, former Provost of Tel Aviv University and member of the Professor Committee, delivered a speech on doctoral thesis writing. He emphasized that qualified doctoral dissertations must have three points, namely, “problem consciousness”, “critical spirit” and “academic contribution”. He encouraged doctoral students to question and criticize boldly and to put forward their own new ideas and new understandings.

Aron Shai delivering a speech

The conference was divided into five sections. The theme of the first section was “History of the Qing Dynasty in Rare Documents”. Yuval Givon, a doctoral student in the East Asia Department of Tel Aviv University, supplemented the historical records of the army going through the Shanhai Pass in the early Qing Dynasty according to letters between Jesuits, and explored Jesuits’ attitude towards the political change and public opinions at that time. Yang Liuqing, a doctoral student in the School of Liberal Arts of Renmin University of China, introduced The Editing Lost Book of Yuhanshanfang, a representative work of the Qing Dynasty’s restoration of lost scripts, and elucidated the starting point for the research. David Mervart, the professor of Madrid Autonomous University, explored some key issues in the history of Qing Dynasty from the perspective of Japan; Meir Shahar, an invited speaker and the professor of Tel Aviv University, delivered a speech entitled “Combination of Fieldwork and Text in Chinese Local Beliefs”, introducing his investigation of folk beliefs in Shanxi Province of China, with a special methodological significance.

Meir Shahar was making a speech

The second section focused on “Martial Arts and Folk Religion in Qing Dynasty”. Israel Kanner, a doctoral student in East Asia Studies Department of Tel Aviv University, gave a speech on the theme of “Understanding Tang Hengle’s Lies: Religious Factors of Plum Blossom Boxing in the Late 17th and 18th Centuries”. He discussed in detail the development of Plum Blossom Boxing and its underlying factors based on various martial arts documents he had found in China. Ernest Kozin, a doctoral student in East Asia Studies Department of Tel Aviv University, explored the practice and belief of martial arts in the northern countryside in the late Qing Dynasty based on recently discovered manuscripts. Benjamin Judkins, the professor at Cornell University, made an in-depth analysis of the development of Chinese martial arts in the United States and its resurrection worldwide since the First World War.

Benjamin Judkins making a speech

The theme of the third section was “History of Ideas from the Warring States to the Republic of China”. Dong Jianing, a doctoral student of School of Chinese Classics in Renmin University of China, explored the space consciousness and expression of early China based on the handed down documents and unearthed silk books; Xu Xiao, a doctoral student of School of Chinese Classics in Renmin University of China, combined the official history records with the expression of literary works, revealed the re-shaping of the social image of Wang Bao and Yu Xin, litterateurs of the Northern Dynasty after the Tang Dynasty; Liu Jingyao, a doctoral candidate in the School of History of Renmin University, studied 52 illustrations in The National Review reflecting the political and current events in the early days of the Republic of China. These works reflected Westerners’ attitudes towards China’s political changes, their dissatisfaction with the Western powers and their sympathy for China at that time.

Liu Jingyao delivering a speech

The theme of the fourth section was “Meeting Railways”. Galia Lavi, a doctoral candidate of East Asia Studies Department of Tel Aviv University, introduced the construction and development of Railways in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A case study was conducted on four representative railways built in the early stage. Dylan Brady, a doctoral student of Oregon University, paid attention to the development of contemporary railways in China, and explored the change of Chinese railway etiquette with “civilization” and “quality” as key words; Shellen Xiao Wu, a professor at Tennessee University, commented on the speeches made by the two doctoral students, pointing out that the history and development process of Chinese railway had a broad and complex political, economic and cultural background, which was a topic worthy of further discussion.

Galia Lavi delivering a speech

The theme of the fifth section was “Landscape Changes in Border and Border Areas”. Lia Wei, a teacher at the School of History of Renmin University, discovered a special group of tombs in the mountainous areas of southeastern Sichuan Province through her own archaeological investigation, and proposed a new research strategy on the road and territory of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in early China. Meny Vaknin, a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University, discussed the swing of the cultural outlook of Guangnan West Road between “Han” Nationality and “Man” Minority Nationalities, and explored the development of border areas in Song Dynasty. Su Rimeng, a doctoral student of School of Chinese Classics of Renmin University, explored the historical changes of Chahaer area from the late Qing Dynasty to the Republic of China, and inspected the administrative, geographical environment and culture of the area. Professor James Anderson of the University of North Carolina made a concluding remark on the history of border and border areas and commented on the speeches of the three speakers.

James Anderson making a speech

In this Forum, senior professors and young scholars joined hands to launch a heated and in-depth discussion on various fields of “China Studies”, which will help to broaden the horizon of relevant domestic research and make a Chinese voice to the international academic community. The forum was also affirmed by the participants, who not only recognized the high standard of academic nature of the forum, but also recognized the form of providing a platform for young scholars to get suggestions from predecessors and fully communicate with all participants. The Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University will continue to hold this forum and hopes that similar activities will continue to promote academic exchanges between China and the world.

Story by Xu Wen; photo by Ruan Xiuhan