In this talk, hosted by the University of Helsinki, Leigh Jenco (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) surveys the background intellectual contexts that made encounters with otherness–in Taiwan and elsewhere–thinkable for Chinese travelers and literati in the late Ming and early Qing. Leigh Jenco tries to show how the embrace of personal experience by followers of Wang Yangming encouraged empirical investigation of, and respect for, diverse forms of living, including that of non-Han Chinese. This finding directly contradicts most Chinese and Western historiography of the Ming-Qing transition, which held that only with the rise of kaozheng (evidential research) and Qing territorial expansion do we find interest in ethnographic documentation of non-Chinese others. It also counters a common criticism of the Yangming school that it remained overly focused on subjective moral insight rather than engagement with the external world. And yet, many of the most sympathetic accounts of indigenous people on Taiwan during this period were written by scholars with sympathy for the Yangming school, including Chen Di and Yu Yonghe. Their work complicates common narratives about the mutual implication of empirical research and territorial expansion and consolidation, by introducing alternative ethical motivations for empirical documentation that in turn shape what and how foreign others are constructed, studied and represented in Chinese discourse.
The event takes place on Friday, 24th of September from 11:15- 12:45 online. For more information, click here.