The Department of History and Art History presents a lecture by Michael Keevak (Professor of Foreign Languages, National Taiwan University, Taipei) entitled Embassies to China: Diplomacy and Cultural Encounters Before the Opium Wars. Keevak will present and discuss findings from his latest book on European embassies to China, which provides essential background to the development of global modernity through the European encounter with China.
Lecture by Michael Keevak: encounters between Europe and China
Considering differing notions of peace, empire, trade, religion, and diplomacy as touchstones in the relations between China and Europe on mutuality, the book examines five encounters with France, Portugal, Holland, the pope, and Russia between 1248 and 1720, and reflects on concepts that the West took for granted but which did not successfully cross over into the Chinese world. Keevak will discuss his insights into the cultural and political conflict which lay at the heart of early Chinese-European relations, as the West's understanding of the truth and appropriateness of its cultural norms was confronted by China's norms and beliefs.
About the speaker
Michael Keevak is a guest researcher of the UU-based project The Chinese Impact: Images and Ideas of China in the Dutch Golden Age. He is a historian with research interests in Europe and East Asia 1500-1900, Renaissance and Baroque Studies, and Comparative Literature. Trained at the Universities of Columbia and Yale, he has held visiting positions at the University of Amsterdam, University of Hamburg, Princeton University, and Pennsylvania State University. He is currently Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at National Taiwan University, where he has taught since 1993.
Keevak has published several books, including Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton University Press, 2011), The Story of a Stele: China's Nestorian Monument and Its Reception in the West, 1625–1916 (Hong Kong University Press, 2008), The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar's Eighteenth-Century Formosan Hoax (Wayne State University Press, 2004), and Sexual Shakespeare: Forgery, Authorship, Portraiture (Wayne State University Press, 2001).
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