Sinology, otherwise referred to as Chinese studies, is a sub-field of area studies or East Asian studies involved in social sciences and humanities research on China. It is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of the Chinese civilization primarily through Chinese language, history, culture, literature, philosophy, art, music, cinema, and science. Its origin "may be traced to the examination which Chinese scholars made of their own civilization."
The academic field of sinology often refers to Western scholarship. It was historically seen to be equivalent to the application of philology to Chinese classics, and until the 20th century was generally seen as meaning "Chinese philology" (language and literature). Sinology has broadened in modern times to include Chinese history, epigraphy, and other subjects.
The terms "sinology" and "sinologist" were coined around 1838 and use "sino-", derived from Late Latin Sinae from the Greek Sinae, from the Arabic Sin which in turn may derive from Qin, as in the Qin dynasty.
In the context of area studies, the European and the American usages may differ. In Europe, sinology is usually known as Chinese studies, whereas in the United States, sinology is a subfield[clarification needed] of Chinese studies.
Japanese sinology edit
In Japan, sinology was known as kangaku (漢学) "Han studies". It was opposed to kokugaku, the study of Japan, and Yōgaku or Rangaku, the study of the West or Netherlands. It is distinguished from the Western and modern sinology.
Chinese sinology edit
In modern China, the studies of China-related subjects is known as "national studies" (simplified Chinese: 国学; traditional Chinese: 國學; pinyin: Guóxué; Wade–Giles: Kuo2-hsüeh2), and foreign sinology is translated as "Han studies" (simplified Chinese: 汉学; traditional Chinese: 漢學; pinyin: Hànxué; Wade–Giles: Han4-hsüeh2).
Western sinology edit
Beginnings to 17th century edit
The earliest Westerners known to have studied Chinese in significant numbers were 16th-century Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian missionaries—all from either the Dominican Order or the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)—seeking to spread Catholic Christianity among the Chinese people. An early Spanish Dominican mission in Manila operated a printing press, and between 1593 and 1607 produced four works on Catholic doctrine for the Chinese immigrant community, three in Classical Chinese and one in a mixture of Classical Chinese and vernacular Hokkien.
Dominican accomplishments among the Chinese diaspora pale in comparison to the success of the Jesuits in mainland China, led by the renowned pioneer Matteo Ricci. Ricci arrived in Canton (modern Guangzhou) in 1583 and spent the rest of his life in China. Unlike most of his predecessors and contemporaries, Ricci did not view the Chinese as "idolatrous pagans", but viewed them as "like-minded literati approachable on the level of learning". He studied the Chinese Confucian classics, just like educated Chinese scholars, in order to present Catholic doctrine and European learning to the Chinese literati in their own language.
18th century edit
During the Age of Enlightenment, sinologists started to introduce Chinese philosophy, ethics, legal system, and aesthetics into the West. Though often unscientific and incomplete, their works inspired the development of chinoiserie and a series of debates comparing Chinese and Western cultures. At that time, sinologists often described China as an enlightened kingdom, comparing it to Europe, which had just emerged from the Dark Ages. Among those European literati interested in China was Voltaire, who wrote the play L'orphelin de la Chine inspired by The Orphan of Zhao, Leibniz who penned his famous Novissima Sinica (News from China) and Giambattista Vico.
Because Chinese texts did not have any major connections to most important European topics (such as the Bible), they were scarcely studied by European universities until around 1860. An exception to this was France, where Chinese studies were popularized owing to efforts from Louis XIV. In 1711, he appointed a young Chinese, Arcadio Huang to catalog the royal collection of Chinese texts. Huang was assisted by Étienne Fourmont, who published a grammar of Chinese in 1742.
In 1732 a missionary priest of the Sacred Congregation "De propaganda fide" from the Kingdom of Naples, Matteo Ripa (1692–1746), created in Naples the first Sinology School of the European Continent: the "Chinese Institute", the first nucleus of what would become today's Università degli studi di Napoli L'Orientale, or Naples Eastern University. Ripa had worked as a painter and copper-engraver at the imperial court of the Kangxi Emperor between 1711 and 1723. Ripa returned to Naples from China with four young Chinese Christians, all teachers of their native language and formed the Institute sanctioned by Pope Clement XII to teach Chinese to missionaries and thus advance the propagation of Christianity in China.
19th century edit
In 1814, a chair of Chinese and Manchu was founded at Collège de France. Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat, who taught himself Chinese, filled the position, becoming the first professor of Chinese in Europe. By then the first Russian sinologist, Nikita Bichurin, had been living in Beijing for ten years. Abel-Rémusat's counterparts in England and Germany were Samuel Kidd (1797–1843) and Wilhelm Schott (1807–1889) respectively, though the first important secular sinologists in these two countries were James Legge and Hans Georg Conon von der Gabelentz. In 1878, a professorship of Far Eastern languages, the first of its kind in the German-speaking world, was created at the University of Leipzig with von der Gabelentz taking the position. Scholars like Legge often relied on the work of ethnic Chinese scholars such as Wang Tao.
Stanislas Julien served as the chair of Chinese at the Collège de France for over 40 years, starting his studies with Rémusat and succeeding him in 1833. He was notable for his translations not only of classical texts but also works of vernacular literature, and for his knowledge of Manchu. Édouard Chavannes succeeded to the position after the death of Marquis d'Hervey-Saint-Denys in 1893. Chavannes pursued broad interests in history as well as language.
The image of China as an essentially Confucian society conveyed by Jesuit scholars dominated Western thought in these times. While some in Europe learned to speak Chinese, most studied written classical Chinese. These scholars were in what is called the "commentarial tradition" through critical annotated translation. This emphasis on translating classical texts inhibited the use of social science methodology or comparing these texts of other traditions. One scholar described this type of sinology as "philological hairsplitting" preoccupied with marginal or curious aspects. Secular scholars gradually came to outnumber missionaries, and in the 20th century sinology slowly gained a substantial presence in Western universities.
20th century and after edit
The Paris-based type of sinology dominated learning about China until the Second World War even outside France. Paul Pelliot, Henri Maspero, and Marcel Granet both published basic studies and trained students. Pelliot's knowledge of the relevant languages, especially those of Central Asia, and control of bibliography in those languages, gave him the power to write on a range of topics and to criticize in damning detail the mistakes of other scholars. Maspero expanded the scope of sinology from Confucianism to include Daoism, Buddhism, and popular religion, as well as art, mythology, and the history of science. The contribution of Granet was to apply the concepts of Emile Durkheim, a pioneer sociologist, to the society of ancient China, especially the family and ritual.
The Russian school of sinology was focused mainly on learning classical Chinese texts. For example, the contribution of the Russian sinologist Julian Shchutsky was especially valuable. The best full translation of the I Ching (Book of Changes) was made by him in 1937. Later his translation was translated in English and other European languages.
After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the study of China developed along diverging lines. The rise of Area studies, the role of China watchers, and the growth of university graduate programs has changed the role of sinology. Funding for Chinese and Taiwanese studies may come from a variety of sources; one prominent source is the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.
The Area studies approach, especially in the United States, challenged the dominance of classical sinology. Scholars such as John King Fairbank promoted the "study of China within a discipline," an approach which downplayed the role of philological sinology and focused on issues in history and the social sciences.
One of the earliest American scholars of Cold War China and Sino-American relations was Chinese-American Tang Tsou of the University of Chicago. Tsou emphasized the importance of academic objectivity in general and in sinology in particular, stressing that intellectual and academic exchange between China and the West was the only way for both parties to come to a greater understanding of one another.
In 1964 an exchange in the pages of the Journal of Asian Studies debated the continued relevance of sinology. The anthropologist G. William Skinner called for the social sciences to make more use of China, but wrote "In recent years the cry has gone up: Sinology is dead; long live Chinese studies!" and concluded that "Sinology, a discipline unto itself, is being replaced by Chinese studies, a multidisciplinary endeavor with specific research objectives." Joseph Levenson, a historian, went further. He doubted that sinology was a tool that social scientists would still find useful, while another historian, Benjamin I. Schwartz, on the other hand, replied that the disciplines were too often treated as ends in themselves. Sinology had its backers. Frederick W. Mote, a specialist in traditional China, replying to Skinner, spoke up for sinology, which he saw as a field or discipline in itself. Another specialist in traditional China, Denis Twitchett, in reply to the back and forth of this debate, issued what he called "A Lone Cheer for Sinology." He did not accept the assumption that there is "some implicit hostility between 'Sinology’ and the disciplines of history and social sciences." Sinology, he continued, is used in too a wide range of meanings to be so confined:
- At one extreme it is used to characterize a rather ridiculous caricature compounded of pedantry and preoccupation with peripheral and precious subjects of little general significance.... At the other extreme, the definition used by Prof. Mote is so broad and all-inclusive as to mean little more than the humanistic studies in the Chinese field.
During the Cold War, China Watchers centered in Hong Kong, especially American government officials or journalists. Mutual distrust between the United States and China and the prohibition of travel between the countries meant they did not have access to press briefings or interviews. They therefore adopted techniques from Kremlinology, such as the close parsing of official announcements for hidden meanings, movements of officials reported in newspapers, and analysis of photographs of public appearances. But in the years since the opening of China, China watchers can live in China and take advantage of normal sources of information.
Towards the end of the century, many of those studying China professionally called for an end to the split between sinology and the disciplines. The Australian scholar Geremie Barmé, for instance, suggests a "New Sinology", one which "emphasizes strong scholastic underpinnings in both the classical and modern Chinese language and studies, at the same time as encouraging an ecumenical attitude in relation to a rich variety of approaches and disciplines, whether they be mainly empirical or more theoretically inflected."
Arab Sinology edit
Before 20th Century edit
Chinese historical sources indicate that the Chinese had knowledge of the Arabs several centuries before Islam, as the history of relations between the two civilizations dates back to the pre-Islamic era. The policy of the Han Dynasty (206 BC) aimed at opening trade routes with the western regions, which are today called Central Asia, India and Western Asia, extending to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Historical studies confirmed that Muslim Arabs entered China during the early days of Islam to spread the religion, when four of Muhammad's companions namely Saad bin Abi Waqqas, Jaafar bin Abi Talib, and Jahsh bin Riab preached in China in the year 616/17. During the reign of Emperor Yongle, the first Chinese fleet arrived on the shores of the Arabian Peninsula, led by Zheng He, on his fourth voyage in 1412 AD. It is clear from the foregoing that there had been friction between China and the Arabs from a long time ago, and that there are cultural and commercial relations existing between the Arab and Chinese civilizations, which required the visiting Arabs to learn the Chinese language and vice versa. However, there are no texts indicating that the Arabs during this period studied the Chinese language or culture beyond what their missionary or trades affairs demanded, and the reason for this is due to the fact that the purpose of the visits was often to trade or to spread Islam.
At the beginning of the seventh century until the eighth century, the power of the Arabs increased due to the expansion of Islam and its spread throughout the world, and their control expanded to the east and west. Their power was strengthened by their vast lands, their advanced network of postal stations, and the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to the flourishing of land and sea trade. All this led to the advancement of their studies in geography and thus, new knowledge about China found its way to the Arab world. Up to the twelfth century, the Arabs possessed exclusive knowledge about the East, and they were contributing to the transmission of knowledge to the West, which contributed to the advancement of Islamic civilization and its impact on world culture.
Arabs such as Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Masoudi, who is a well-known historical figure in the Arabian Peninsula, made significant contributions to Sinology. Al-Masoudi has traveled all over the world since he was a child, visiting faraway places. In the year 915, he visited India, Ceylon, Champa, and the coastal regions of China, and then visited Zabagh and Turkistan in Central Asia. He died in the year 956, and he is the author of the book “Meadows of Gold,” which deals with history, geography, and other fields. He had many records about China, and these records were popular among orient scholars.
Abu Zayd's book "On China and India" was a well-known and highly regarded Arabic historical material. The book had two separate parts, the first part was "History of Indian and Chinese Affairs" by an unknown author, and the second part was "A Collection of Rumors of India and China" by Abu Zayd. The first part was a selection from Solomon's "Chinese experiences" and other anonymous sources, written and recorded in 851, together with their experiences in India.
20th century and after edit
During the 20th century, projects of cooperation between China and the Arab countries led to the development of Sinology in the Arab countries nominally after expanding the scope of Chinese-Arab cooperation in the field of education, with some difference according to the level of cooperation. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Egypt in 1956, Egypt began to open the Chinese language specialization course in Egyptian universities, but on a small scale at that time. Ain Shams University opened the Chinese language specialization in 1958. However, the course was stopped for prevailing political reasons at the time. In the period between 1958 and 1963, 33 Chinese language students graduated from Egyptian universities. In 1977, Ain Shams University reintroduced the Sinology specialization course. In addition to Egypt, there were activities to teach the Chinese language in Kuwait as well, but they stopped after a short period.
The number of Arabs that learn the Chinese Language has increased. The Chinese Language Department at Ain Shams University is a major center for teaching the Chinese language in Egypt and one of the notable centers for teaching the Chinese language in the Arab world and Africa in terms of student size, teaching quality, and the level of teachers and staff. The Bourguiba Institute for Modern Languages was also opened in Tunisia, and it specializes in the Chinese language in 1977. Cairo University also established the Chinese Language Department in September 2004 becoming a major center for Sinology is North Africa.
Arab scholars sought to delve deeper into Sinology for academic, political, cultural and diplomatic purposes in order to build a bridge of communication between the Arab and Chinese peoples. Their interest in the history of China also increased greatly. Many books related to the history of Chinese culture and its people were published in the Arabic language. In 2020 after spending about six years as a consul in Guangzhou, Ali bin Ghanem Al-Hajri, a Qatari diplomat who is considered one of the Arabs with a lot of original Arabic academic works in sinology, published the book “Zheng He, Chinese Emperor of the Seas”. The book covers the history and adventures of a Chinese commander by the name Zheng He whose fleet went round the known world in seven voyages between the years 1415 and 1432. He also wrote before that the novel “The Fleet of the Sun” inspired by the story of the Chinese commander. It was considered the first Arabic novel with a Chinese as the central character, thus it achieved some fame in the Arab world, although it was not published until recently. He also published "China in the Eyes of Travelers", a book that delved deep into the history of ancient China through the discoveries made by travellers and explorers. Al-hajri further wrote the book "Arts in the Ming Dynasty", in which he elaborated on the political and economic development of the Ming Dynasty and the historical development of Chinese culture. Four of his books are translated into Chinese
Many books have been translated from Chinese into Arabic as part of these efforts. Where more than 700 books about the people of China, their culture, economy, literature and philosophy have been translated into Arabic by the (House of Wisdom) company located in the Ningxia Hui region, northwest China since its establishment in 2011.
- Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême Orient
- Chinese Heritage Quarterly, China Heritage Project, Australian National University
- Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
- Journal of Asian Studies
- Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies
- The (Cambridge) China Quarterly
- Journal Asiatique
- Late Imperial China
- Monumenta Serica
- Sino-Platonic Papers
- T'oung Pao
- Modern China
- Toho Gakuho
- Toyoshi Kenkyu
See also edit
- Cf. p.4, Zurndorfer, China Bibliography
- Honey (2001), p. xi.
- American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 3rd edition 1992): 1686.
- Honey (2001), p. 6.
- Honey (2001), p. 9.
- Honey (2001), p. 10.
- Zurndorfer (1999), p. 8-14.
- Zurndorfer (1999), p. 14-15.
- Zurndorfer (1999), pp. 32–33.
- Zurndorfer (1999), p. 32.
- Brown, Deborah (September–December 2004). "Organizations That Support Taiwan Studies: A Select Overview" (PDF). Issues & Studies. 40 (3/4): 281–314. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 July 2011.
- Liu, Qing (May 2020). "To Be an Apolitical Political Scientist: A Chinese Immigrant Scholar and (Geo)politicized American Higher Education". History of Education Quarterly. 60 (2): 129–155. doi:10.1017/heq.2020.10.
- Skinner, G William (1964). "What the Study of China Can Do for Social Science". The Journal of Asian Studies. 23 (4): 517–522. doi:10.2307/2050232. JSTOR 2050232. S2CID 143323553.
- Levenson, Joseph R (1964). "The Humanistic Disciplines: Will Sinology Do?". The Journal of Asian Studies. 23 (4): 507–512. doi:10.2307/2050230. JSTOR 2050230. S2CID 163599896.
- Schwartz, Benjamin (1964). "The Fetish of the 'Disciplines'". Journal of Asian Studies. 23 (4): 537–538. doi:10.2307/2050236. JSTOR 2050236. S2CID 146894392.
- Mote, Frederick W. (1964). "The Case for the Integrity of Sinology". The Journal of Asian Studies. 23 (4): 531–534. doi:10.2307/2050234. JSTOR 2050234. S2CID 163521238.
- Twitchett, Denis (December 1964). "A Lone Cheer for Sinology". The Journal of Asian Studies. 24 (1): 109–112. doi:10.2307/2050419. JSTOR 2050419. S2CID 162434544.
- Barmé, Geremie R., On New Sinology Archived 2015-04-11 at the Wayback Machine, China Heritage Project, The Australian National University
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- Barrett, Timothy Hugh, Singular Listlessness: A Short History of Chinese Books and British Scholars (London: Wellsweep, 1989). 125 pages. "Published in its original form in F. Wood, ed., British Library Occasional papers, 10: Chinese studies , p. 9-53.".
- Cayley, John & Ming Wilson ed., Europe Studies China: Papers from an International Conference on the History of European Sinology, London: Han-Shan Tang Books, 1995.
- Cole, James H. (2003). Twentieth Century China: An Annotated Bibliography of Reference Works in Chinese, Japanese, and Western Languages. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-0395-1.
- Honey, David B. (2001). Incense at the Altar: Pioneering Sinologists and the Development of Classical Chinese Philology. New Haven: American Oriental Society. ISBN 978-0940490161. (See also E.G. Pulleyblank's review Archived 2016-08-27 at the Wayback Machine of the work in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 122, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep., 2002), pp. 620–624, available through JSTOR).
- Mungello, David E., Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology Archived 2022-12-06 at the Wayback Machine, Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985; rpr. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1989 ISBN 0824812190.
- Wilkinson, Endymion (2012). Chinese History: A New Manual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674067158.
- Yang Liansheng, Excursions in Sinology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969).
- Ye, Yunshan (2014). ALA Guide to Researching Modern China. American Library Association. ISBN 978-0-8389-1209-6.
- Zurndorfer, Harriet, "A Brief History of Chinese Studies and Sinology," in Zurndorfer, Harriet (1999). China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works About China Past and Present. Honolulu: Brill; reprinted, University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-9004102781.
- The Sinology Institute
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- (in Chinese) Guoxue
- Chinese Text Project
- Chinese Civilisation Centre - City University of Hong Kong
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- Torbjörn Lodén,"Swedish Sinology: A Historical Perspective" (archived)
Library and research guides edit
- "Internet Guide for Chinese Studies". Netherlands: Sinological Institute, Leiden University. 21 August 1998.
- Electronic Resources for Chinese Studies and East Asian Libraries
- "Chinese Studies". Library Guides. USA: University of Chicago.
- "Chinese Studies". Research Guides. Harvard University Library.
- "Chinese Studies". Resources by Subject. USA: Indiana University Bloomington Libraries. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
- "China and Inner Asia". Subject Guides. School of Oriental and African Studies Library, University of London.
- "Chinese Studies". Research Guides. USA: University of Michigan.
- Northwestern University Library. "Chinese Studies". LibGuides. Illinois, USA: Northwestern University.
- "China and Inner Asia". Oxford LibGuides. Oxford, UK: University of Oxford, Bodleian Libraries. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
- University Libraries. "Research Resources for Chinese Studies". Research Guides. New Jersey: Rutgers University.
- "Area Studies". Subject Guides. National University of Singapore Libraries. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2014. (includes China)