- Assistant Professor
- Michigan State University
Translating Manchu in the Qing
Along with Chinese, the Manchu language played an important role in the state communications structure and in urban society during the Qing period (1636-1912). Despite widespread acknowledgement of the significance of the Manchu language, we have neither a comprehensive understanding of the scope and use of Manchu texts, nor a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between Chinese and Manchu textual production. This grandscale project began no later than the 1630s, when countless officials, scholars, soldiers, clerks, and teachers, along with the emperors themselves, joined in the creation of thousands of documents, treatises, and histories; philosophical, religious, and moral works; conversation manuals and phrase books; and travelogues, novels, plays, poems, and songs. Relying heavily upon translation, this was a highly cosmopolitan venture, involving not only court scribes and Manchu and Chinese littérateurs, but also Mongolian, Tibetan, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and European scholars. Through a close examination of a range of paired Manchu-Chinese texts, the primary goal of this workshop is to capture and appreciate more fully the neglected dimensions of Manchu literary production and consumption, which remained vital through the nineteenth century. By looking closely at Manchu-Chinese translation in the Qing, the workshop aims to advance and transform our understanding of the Manchu language as a political and literary tool, and of the role of language in empire more generally; by bringing history and literature into closer dialogue, and employing the theoretical approaches of translation studies, the workshop will lay the basis for new methodologies and modes of reading Qing texts.
Crafting Jade: The Construction of Objects and Empire in Eighteenth-Century China
This project explores the social life of jade to improve our understanding of empire building in High Qing China. Historically associated with Confucian ideology, jade acquired new significance when the Qianlong emperor expanded his rule into Xinjiang. This project provides the first systematic investigation of jade quarrying, production, and circulation, highlighting how territory administration was empowered by the hands-on works conducted by the court and its subjects. It expands beyond a text-centric approach and reveals how the Manchu rulers and commoners perceived and contested empire construction through material practices, shedding light on our understanding of center-periphery connections, technology and politics, and imperial-material relations in eighteenth-century China.