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BHUM 12A05 - Silk road: How Westerners and Chinese see each other: a historical perspective

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn and Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Much has been said about the cultural gap between China and the Western world. Even going further, some scholars have considered the Chinese moral values as a sort of “otherness” of the alleged “ Western values ”. In this course, I would like to assess this opinion in providing students with a set of documents (texts, films, pictures) which illustrates the encounter between the European and Chinese civilizations at different periods of their history. In order to overcome Western-centrism and to contribute to a balanced history, sources will come from both places. We will particularly focus on the following points: 1. Defining the identity and status of people involved in the encounter; 2. Pinpointing the context of the encounter in terms of aims, interests, strategies, etc. 3. Assessing the moral values and the practices that both sides mobilize and promote; 4. Connecting these moral values and practices to the context of the encounter. Five periods of time will be chosen as core moments of contact: 1. When the Jesuits established in China (17th and 18th centuries) 2. When European countries forced China to open to Western influence (19th century) 3. When Chinese intellectuals adopted European values in order to contribute to China rebirth (beginning of the 20th century). 4. When China became a source of inspiration for European intellectuals (1960s and 1970s) 5. When China is perceived both as a threat and as an opportunity (today).


ROCCA, Jean-Louis (Chargé de recherches, CERI)

Pedagogical format

This is an “experimental” course. Then it requires a strong participation of students. Each session will start by a historical introduction by me followed by the presentation of documents by students (mainly written documents but other types of documents are welcome). Students could also propose documents related to the topic.

Course validation

1- Presentation of a document in class 2- A reading note 3- Final paper

Required reading

Roberts, J.A.G, A History of China, New York, Palgrave Macmilla, 2011

Additional required reading

Wright, Davis Curtis, The History of China, Oxford: Grenwood, 2011