China in Europe: A Brief Survey of European China Studies at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century

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Ming Wilson and John Cayley, editors. Europe Studies China: Papers from an International Conference on the History of European Sinology. London: Han-Shan Tang Books, 1995. 569 p. Hardcover [pound]30.00. ISBN 0-906610-16-8.

European China studies are confusing--even for Europeans. There are more than two dozen countries and languages, and the continent was divided by the Cold War for half a century. In addition, there are other conflicts familiar to American Asianists: between modern and classical scholars, social scientists and historians, and--particularly in the 1960s and 1970s--leftists and rightists. Even though most scholars today are able and willing to communicate in English, they prefer to publish in their own languages.

In 1976 the European Association of Chinese Studies (EACS) was established, and it now has some seven hundred members, but it meets only every two years. It does not publish a journal but occasionally produces some useful surveys; these will be discussed below.

In 1998 the International Institute for Asian Studies in Leiden published the first directory of Asianists in Europe. This Guide to Asian Studies in Europe includes the names of some five thousand scholars, along with additional information on institutions and publications. Despite some deficiencies and a confusing arrangement of entries, it is a big step forward, and improved editions are promised for the near future.

There are two conference volumes that provide detailed information on the history and current state of Chinese studies in Europe. In 1992 more than forty sinologists from a dozen countries met in Taiwan for a conference on the history of European sinology, which was sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation. With thirty contributions in 570 pages, the conference volume Europe Studies China (1995) is the best introduction to (traditional) European sinology. There are two parts: the first deals with developments in different countries (Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and Sweden), which will be discussed below. The second part consists of essays on different topics; these include Art (Lothar Ledderose und Roderick Whitfield), Drama (Cyril Birch), Literature (Milena Dolezelova-Velingerova und Boris Riftin), Language and Translation (Soren Egerod, Christoph Harbsmeier, Edwin Pulleyblank, and David Pollard), Jesuit Studies (Erik Zurcher), Manchu Studies (Wolfgang Bauer), Taoist Studies (Kristofer Schipper), and Tun-huang Studies (Jean-Pierre Drege).

In 1993 the Chinese University of Hong Kong organized a conference on the development of contemporary China studies that included four papers on Europe (Britain, France, Northern Europe, and Russia). …