Menegon and Weller to participate in New England China Seminar

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October 20th, 2012

Eugenio Menegon, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia, and Robert P. Weller, Professor and Chair of Anthropology and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University, are taking part in Harvard Fairbank Center’s New England China Seminar. The New England China Seminar series began in 1971 as a forum for scholars in the New England region to gather and discuss China topics as a larger academic community. The format is usually two lectures with a dinner break in between.

Menegon will present “Daily Life and Courtly Networks: Europeans in Eighteenth-Century Beijing.”

European Catholic missionaries worked in 18th-century Beijing as artists, scientists, and technicians, while covertly engaging in proselytism. They joined court patronage networks and pursued their religious agenda by exchanging Western luxury items and their skilled labor for political favors and economic privileges. Professor Menegon will discuss the European testimony, preserved in little-explored archives, that reveals how the Qing court functioned not only as an extension of the imperial will but also as the site of less structured and recognizable power transactions within the imperial palaces, the capital city, and its hinterland.

Weller will present “Pluralism and the Problem of Ambiguity in Chinese Religions.”

How do we negotiate across the boundaries that separate us? How do we live with the ambiguities that accompany them? Professor Weller will examine how religion may contribute to constructing pluralism over time through ritual and shared experience. Using Chinese examples, he will address the rhythmic religious flows that can carry people across boundaries instead of teaching us to stay within them.

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