Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society

Funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, ACLS offers a program of support for work in China studies.

In this cycle of competitions awards were made to proposals adopting an explicitly cross-cultural or comparative perspective: projects that, for example, compare aspects of Chinese history and culture with those of other nations and civilizations, explore the interaction of these nations and civilizations, or engage in cross-cultural research on the relations among the diverse and shifting populations of China. Proposals are expected to be empirically grounded, theoretically informed, and methodologically explicit.

Read more about this program.

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  • Art Between China, Europe, and the United States Researching the Van Braam Collection of Chinese Art  |  Abstract

    This workshop explores a rich moment in the history of artistic engagement between China, Europe, and the United States by focusing on a recently rediscovered collection of Chinese art amassed in the eighteenth century by Andreas Everardus van Braam Houckgeest (1739-1801). Van Braam lived much of his life in Guangzhou and was a member of the Dutch East India Company's last diplomatic mission to the Beijing court. When van Braam returned to the United States, he presented Philadelphia audiences with what is considered to be the first curated display of Chinese art in the United States. Our workshop seeks to understand van Braam's life and art collection as early models of European and American engagement with Chinese art, cross-cultural translation, and globalization.

    Dawn Odell
    Dawn Odell

    Associate Professor, Art and Art History, Lewis & Clark College

  • Global China in Comparative Perspectives  |  Abstract

    This workshop brings together a group of junior and senior scholars who have done grounded empirical research on China’s multifaceted overseas engagements in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The design of the workshop is deliberately comparative. By pairing researchers with similar empirical foci – ranging from infrastructural investment, labor, diaspora politics, Communist united front strategies, cultural and medical diplomacy – but with data collected from different parts of the world, the workshop seeks to generate cross-regional comparative insights for new conceptualization and theorization of China as an international force taking many forms.

    Ching Kwan Lee
    Ching Kwan Lee

    Professor, Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles

  • International Conference on Confucianism, Buddhism, and Kantian Moral Theory  |  Abstract

    The proposed conference and the volume it shall produce will explore recent trends in Confucian, Buddhist, and Kantian moral theory in a comparative perspective by bringing together twelve influential and promising philosophers, East and West, who work at the intersection between Confucian, Buddhist, and Kantian moral theory. The goal is for them not only to share their views, but also to meet, listen to, and exchange ideas and arguments with one another with the aim of fostering a greater global perspective, deeper and more productive intercultural exchange, and future collaboration.

    Philip John Ivanhoe
    Philip John Ivanhoe

    Professor, Public Policy, Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea

  • Literary Culture Across Eurasia: China and Beyond  |  Abstract

    This workshop seeks to bring together scholars from various disciplines to engage in an interdisciplinary and comparative study on the mutual parallels, contacts, influences, and inspirations of literary culture in China and countries across Eurasia. Recent work among scholars has shown the mutual influence and interconnectedness between literary culture in China, Tibet, and India. The goal of this workshop is to further explore how Chinese literary culture influenced, shaped, and transformed literary culture across the Indian Ocean littoral and the Inner Asian region. While China is at the heart of our conversations, we invite literary scholars working on South, Southeast, Inner Asia, and the Middle East to contribute their insights.

    Haun Saussy
    Haun Saussy

    Professor, Comparative Literature, University of Chicago

  • Silk Road Imaginaries  |  Abstract

    This conference will bring scholars of medieval and late imperial China into dialogue with scholars working on the cultures traditionally associated with the Silk Road in order to theorize premodern representations of the transregional circulation of commodities and concepts. Our aim is to uncover how people imagined these exchanges prior to the conceptualization of the Silk Road in the nineteenth century. What kinds of narratives were constructed around these exchanges and how did they vary across time, space, genre, and media? How were these exchanges invested with symbolic meaning, integrated into existing cosmologies, or marshaled for political ends? And was there ever a sense that these exchanges were part of a coherent system comparable to the modern concept of a Silk Road?

    Ariel Fox
    Ariel Fox

    Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

    Richard Payne
    Richard Payne

    Associate Professor, History, University of Chicago

    Pénélope Riboud
    Pénélope Riboud

    Associate Professor, Chinese Studies, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, France

  • Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1941 to 1949  |  Abstract

    In this conference we will explore Sino-American relations during the 1940s from a grassroots perspective. Pushing back against the hegemony of Cold War narratives, we have gathered together scholars who are focused on understanding the individual interactions between Americans and Chinese in China at all levels of the socio-economic spectrum. This perspective allows for powerful new insights into the formation of modern China, the development of institutions of governance and science, the sustained frictions between America and China, and the creation of the institutions and infrastructures that continue to shape American dominated Cold War East Asia.

    Judd Creighton Kinzley
    Judd Creighton Kinzley

    Associate Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison