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Trinity Centre for Asian Studies Events

The Trinity Centre for Asian Studies organises regular public lectures, seminars and outreach activities. This page contains links to information about events that have been organised by the Centre or in association with its members. Events are open to all and free of charge unless otherwise indicated. Details of past events are listed at the bottom of this page.

Our planned face to face events have been cancelled due to the pandemic. However, there are still plenty of ways to stay in touch with research findings in Asian Studies. Please browse our podcasts below, and we will post details of virtual talks that you can join remotely as they are confirmed.

portrait picture of JKirill Solonin  TCAS hosts two lectures by Visiting Professor Kirill Solonin (Renmin University of China)

Kirill Solonin (Renmin University of China) - Tangut Synthesis: Sino-Tibetan Buddhism during 11th-13th centuries

Monday 20 May, 10am-12pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor
Register here: 

Since the inception of Tangut studies, it has been evident that the Tangut Realm was predominantly a Buddhist kingdom. From a textual perspective, the Buddhist corpus available comprises three major elements: Sinitic, Tibetan and a synthetic element, which the scholarship tends to identify as “Sino-Tibetan” Buddhism, i.e. a combination of Sinitic and Tibetan features in one text. After the collapse of the Tangut state in 1227, Tangut Buddhism continued to thrive, and had important impacts on the development of Buddhism in the Central Plains, notably through the initial introduction of Tibetan Buddhism to the Mongol rulers. In this talk, we will explore the key constituents of Tangut Buddhism, discuss the major dimensions of both Sinitic and Tibetan Buddhism within the Tangut Buddhist system and indicate major characteristics of the Sino-Tibetan Buddhism, as they emerge from the available textual heritage. We will also address the issues of historical origins, the variety of textual transmission and translation, the reconstruction of the Tangut Buddhist “system” and other related topics.

Kirill Solonin (Renmin University of China) - Who were the Tanguts and Why study them

Friday 17 May, 2-4pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor
Register here: 

Among political regimes established in the Central Plains during the 10-13th centuries, the Tangut Realm occupies a specific position. The Tangut tribes, known in the traditional sources as the dangxiang 党項 were not indigenous to the area of the great loop of the Yellow River, but migrated from the intersection of modern Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, i.e. from the mountainous areas of the Eastern fringes of the Tibetan Plateau. Unlike their contemporaries, the Kitan and Jurcen, who spoke variations of Mongolic languages, the Tanguts were Tibeto-Burman speakers, and their languages remains the best documented TB language, apart from Tibetan. The original title of the Tangut state, normally known as the “Western Xia” 西夏 in the Chinese records, was in the fact “The Great State of White and High”, reminiscent of both their geographical origins, and of certain mythological connotations, many of which remain to be clarified. In the talk we will discuss the hypothesis of the Tangut ethnic origins, the most characteristic features of the Tangut civilization, including their unique language and script, and will try to show the continuity of the Tangut culture during the Yuan and Ming periods. We will specifically concentrate on the indigenous materials, including Tangut poetry and didactic literature, which is now becoming increasingly known to a wider scholarly community. We will also discuss the perspectives of the Tangut studies. 

Kirill Solonin currently holds the position of professor at the School of Chinese Classics, Renmin University of China. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Science from Saint Petersburg State University. As a leading scholar in his fields, Solonin’s research concentrates on Tangut studies, the history of religions, linguistics and philology. His significant contributions include Двенадцать Царств (1995), 大鹏展翅:藏传新旧密咒在西夏的传播 (2022), and "Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra in Tangut Translation" (co-authored with Shintaro Arakawa in 2024).

portrait picture of John Carlyle  Webinar: Ruiqing Shen (National University of Singapore) - Inland Min in a historical perspective

note: this event is in Chinese

Friday 17 May 10:30am-12:00pm (Dublin)
Venue: Zoom
Register here:


沈瑞清,现为新加坡国立大学中文系助理教授,香港科技大学人文学部语言学博士毕业,研究方向为语音学、演化音系学、语言类型学、汉语音韵学等等。曾于《方言》、《中国语言学集刊(Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics)》、《语言暨语言学(Language & Linguistics)》等刊物发表论著,代表作有《湘西古丈瓦乡话调查报告》(与伍云姬合著)、<闽北石陂方言声调的音系表达>、<黄坑话与早期闽北语>、<闽南语的去鼻化与原始沿海闽语的清响音>、<Interaction Between Min and Other Sinitic Languages: Genetic Inheritance and Areal Patterns>等。

portrait picture of John Carlyle  Webinar: John Carlyle (University of Washington) - Some Remarks on the Development of OC *a in Min Chinese

Friday 3 May 10:30am-12:00pm (Dublin)
Venue: Zoom
Register here:

In their reconstruction of Old Chinese (OCBS), Baxter and Sagart (2014) use capital *A as an ad-hoc convention to mark unexplained developments of the main vowel *a in the Qièyùn System (QYS). There are three finals in which *A occurs, *-A, *-Aj, and *-Ak. In all cases, the development of *A corresponds to the vocalism ia in Norman (2006)’s Common Dialectal Chinese (CDC). For the final *-Ak, Baxter and Sagart (2014, 226) tentatively treat the development to -jek as a conditioned change that occurred after “dental and palatal initials,” but raise the possibility that dialect variation created exceptions. In support of this stance, they observe that the change did not affect autochthonous words Min Chinese. Both OCBS *-ak (type B) and *-Ak are reflected as *-iɔk in Common Min (Norman 2012). A similar situation exists for the OCBS finals *-aj and *-Aj. In the autochthonous layer of Min, both are *-iai. In addition to the above, Shěn and Zēng (2021) observed that OCBS final *-A(k)-s developed in a parallel fashion to *-Ak. In Min it corresponds to a final that Norman reconstructed as an irregular development of CM *-uo. Shěn and Zēng demonstrated that this development is in fact not irregular, but may be reconstructed for at least three etyma. Here I treat it as #-i , an open-syllable counterpart to CM *-iɔk. In this presentation, I will argue that the *A of the Baxter and Sagart reconstruction represents instances of pre-medieval dialect mixture and that the earliest layers of Min reflect the original situation. I will also make the case that #-iɔ is probably a vestige of the original development of Old Chinese *-a(k/ )-s > #-ah in Min but was later replaced with the competing finals *-y and *-oe due to contact with northern migrants in the early medieval period. 

John Carlyle is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington. His research interests include Chinese historical phonology, dialectology, palaeography, and digital humanities. 

picture of Kwok Bit-Chee Webinar: Kwok Bit-Chee (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) - 從比較音韻的角度看莆仙片方言在沿海閩語中的位置

note: this event is in Chinese

Friday 10 May 10:30am-12:00pm (Dublin), 17:30pm-19pm (Hong Kong)
Venue: Zoom
Register here:

沿海閩語由閩東片、閩南片和莆仙片三片方言組成,當中莆仙片 (福建東部莆田、仙游兩地的方言) 的角色比較特別,一般認為它是一種過渡性方言,兼具了閩東片和閩南片的特點。對於莆仙片和其他沿海閩語成員的發生學關係,學界仍有爭議。本文首先對原始沿海閩語的音系進行局部重建,並在此框架下,指出莆仙片和閩南片共享多項韻母上的創新,包括 (1) *ɑ 韻腹裂化、(2) *ɑ、*o、*e 韻腹後輔音韻尾弱化、(3) *-uŋ、*-uk 韻腹元音低化,等等。這些音變大部分都可以按相對時序排列出來。筆者同意Bodman (1985) 的看法,認為歷史上曾經存在過「原始閩南-莆仙片方言」。報告也會簡單討論一些從閩東片遷移到莆仙片的語音特徵。

郭必之,香港中文大學中國語言及文學系教授、粵語研究中心主任、中國文化研究院吳多泰中國語文研究中心名譽研究員,《中國語言學報》(Journal of Chinese Linguistics) 及《中國語文通訊》編委。研究興趣包括漢語方言學 (特別是粵語、閩語及客語)、歷史語言學及接觸語言學,著有Southern Min: Comparative Phonology and Subgrouping (2018)、《語言接觸視角下的南寧粵語語法研究》(2019) 及論文七十餘篇。

picture of tree and clouds- the clouds represent a mapNew approaches to computational historical linguistics in the Asian context

Monday 29 April, 2-4pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

Quantitative methods have been applied to historical linguistics since the early 20th century. However, it is only in recent times that multiple computational methods have flourished in the exploration of the histories of East Asian languages. This workshop showcases diverse computational approaches to understanding linguistic evolution. Zhang Menghan (Fudan University, China), Lai Yunfan (Trinity College Dublin) and Nathan Hill (Trinity College Dublin) will present from distinct angles: first, the inference of prehistoric trajectories within Sino-Tibetan and Kra-Dai populations; second, the application of information theory to explore language subgrouping via sound correspondences; and third, the automated phonological reconstruction of proto-languages employing finite state transducers. Supported by the FAHSS Events Fund. 

2-2:40pm - Zhang Menghan (Fudan University), "Phylolinguistic insights into the prehistories of Sino-Tibetan and Kra-Dai languages"

The study of language origin and divergence is important for understanding the history of human populations and their cultures. As the most linguistically diverse region on earth, East and Southeast Asia have witnessed extensive sociocultural and ethnic contacts among different language communities. Especially, there are several language families such as the Sino-Tibetan languages, which is the second largest one in the world, and the Kra-Dai languages that exhibit tremendous socio-cultural importance in East and Southeast Asia. How to reconstruct the evolutionary processes of these different language families remains a great challenge in traditional historical linguistics. The major reason is the lack of sufficient and continuous historical accounts of their prehistory. Fortunately, applying Bayesian phylogenetic frameworks and triangulating empirical evidence from linguistics, genetics, and archaeology can provide new insights into studying the complex prehistory of languages in the world. In this presentation, we are showing our recent advances in the reconstruction of the prehistory of Sino-Tibetan and Kra-Dai languages in East and Southeast Asia.

2:40-3:20pm - Lai Yunfan (Trinity College Dublin), "Mutual predictiveness of sound correspondences for reconstruction and language subgrouping"

This paper introduces a novel method for evaluating proto-language reconstructions in historical linguistics, using Gyalrongic languages—a conservative subset of Sino-Tibetan—as a case study. Mutual Implicative Entropy (MIE) is applied to assess the genetic distance between related languages and to construct Neighbornet networks for visualizing the subgrouping of Gyalrongic languages. The resulting networks align with qualitative historical linguistic analyses, facilitating adjustments to previous subgroupings derived from Bayesian phylogenetic inference. This method offers a means of detecting nuances in lower sub-branches that might be overlooked by lexicon-based methods, making MIE a quick and efficient tool for validating reconstructions and refining the preliminary structure of language subgroupings in historical linguistics.

3:20-4pm - Nathan Hill (Trinity College Dublin), "Enhancing Proto-Language Reconstruction with CAPR: Advancements in Rule-Based Phonological Analysis"

This paper presents CAPR (Computer-Assisted Phonological Reconstruction), a software tool that employs finite state transducers to assist in the reconstruction of proto-languages, with a focus on Proto-Burmish. CAPR automates aspects of phonological analysis, including the detection of loanwords, and supports the detailed examination of sound changes within daughter languages. By utilizing both forward and backward reconstruction methods, CAPR enhances the efficiency of hypothesis testing in historical phonology. This tool is particularly useful for linguistic communities with limited research resources. The paper outlines the technical framework of CAPR, its application in studying the Bola language, and its impact on streamlining phonological research in computational historical linguistics.

painting of a protest in chinaSimone O’Malley Sutton - The Chinese May Fourth Generation and the Irish Literary Revival: Writers of Modernism and Fighters against the Colonial Condition

Thursday 11 April, 5-5:45pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

This talk illuminates how the Irish Literary Revival provided an alternative route to the modern for the Chinese May Fourth writers, bypassing discourses on race that saturated literatures produced in the imperial centre. As writers of Modernism and as fighters against the postcolonial condition, both literary movements discovered a form of Modernism in a postcolonised peripheral setting, or a reciprocal type of Postcolonial Modernism as an alternative answer to the twin evils of Colonial Modernity and Capitalist Modernity. Research in original Chinese language sources makes clear how the Irish Revivalists influenced the Chinese May Fourth writers as anti-colonial writers and fighters, and how this process was reciprocal as Asian influences circled back to influence Irish Revivalism. Furthermore, questions of class, socialism and gender complicate this comparison of two contemporaneous early twentieth-century modern literature movements as the Irish and Chinese Renaissance movements shape our global heritage through mutual encounter and reciprocal exchange.

Dr. Simone O’Malley Sutton, after living for six years in Beijing, lectured on modern Chinese history, gender and ethnicity at the University College Cork. She was awarded the Murphy Irish Fellowship in order to attend University of Notre Dame, from 2016 to 2018. Her interests include postcolonialism and gender. Her book entitled The Chinese May Fourth Generation and the Irish Literary Revival: Writers and Fighters was recently published by Palgrave MacMillan. She is a fluent speaker of both Chinese and Irish.

Human-headed winged lion (lamassu)Martin Worthington (Trinity College Dublin) - How consistent is Akkadian idiom? Attributive adjectives and the attributive construct state

Tuesday 9 April, 4-5pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

Much of Akkadian morphology looks (at least as often presented) as if it were designed by a computer, with forms and their meanings easily derived from first principles. But how do these forms get used? The matter is rarely discussed. This paper will analyse the distribution of attributive adjectives and the 'attributive construct state', arguing that their meanings and uses change in unexpected ways, and that what I call the 'structure' of the relevant idioms (a concept which makes more sense for Akkadian than for English) is more complex than generally realised.

Martin Worthington is an Assyriologist in Trinity's Department of Near and Middle East. His current book projects are an explanatory Sign List of the cuneiform script, and a monograph provisionally called Sargon's Riddle.

picture of the Nasrani-crossJobymon Skaria (St Patrick's Pontifical University) - St. Thomas Christians' encounter with the caste system in South India

Thursday 21 March, 5-6pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

St. Thomas Christians are a community of Indian Christians who trace their origins to the apostolic mission of St. Thomas in South India. The community is known for its unique blend of Indian and Christian traditions, which developed over centuries of interaction with the local culture. However, one of the most significant challenges that St. Thomas Christians have faced in their history has been the caste system, which has been a source of oppression and discrimination for many Indians. This has resulted in an imbalance in the St Thomas Christians’ social praxis as some members of the community began to question the validity of the caste system and its compatibility with Christian teachings, while others continued to embrace the caste system, seeing it as an essential part of their culture. Today, the St. Thomas Christians continue to grapple with the legacy of the caste system. This lecture examines the scandalous history of St Thomas Christians’ encounter with the caste system.

Dr. Jobymon Skaria is an adjunct lecturer at St Patrick's Pontifical University whose research applies postcolonial approaches to the Hebrew Scriptures. He recently published, 'Dalit Theology, Boundary Crossings and Liberation in India: A Biblical and Postcolonial Study' (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022). His articles include "Golah Politics Unmasked" and "Judean Reception of Elisha Narratives". Dr. Skaria is also an ordained priest in the St. Thomas tradition of the Oriental Orthodox Church.

picture of Aitareya_Brahmana,_pages_1r_1v_2r_2v,_folio_3a,_Schoenberg_Center_manuscriptDieter Gunkel (University of Richmond) - The syntactic expression of polarity focus in Vedic prose

Tuesday 19 March, 4-5pm
Venue: TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

Polarity focus (also known as verum focus) is traditionally thought to emphasize the truth of the propositional content of a sentence, or to contrast the truth of its content with the belief that it is not true. It may be understood as the positive counterpart to narrow focus on negation, e.g. Dieter DOES understand syntax vs. Dieter does NOT understand syntax.

This presentation explores how polarity focus is expressed in Vedic Sanskrit prose texts, especially the Aitareya-Brāhmaṇa (AB) and the Jaiminīya-Brāhmaṇa (JB). The first part of the talk is concerned with identifying likely instances of polarity focus in a “corpus” language. These include not only sentences that can be felicitously translated into English sentences with polarity focus intonation but also sentences with discourse properties that are typical of polarity focus: sentences whose propositional content is entirely given in the preceding discourse; sentences that put questions to rest or end the discussion of a particular issue; etc. That process yields a collection of ca. 75 sentences where polarity focus (or narrow focus on negation) is likely.

Those data exhibit systematic departures from the neutral word order of Vedic prose. Leaving some details aside, we observe the fronting of negation, if present; else a preverb, if present; else the verb. I offer some preliminary syntactic analysis and typological comparison of the phenomena.

Dieter Gunkel received his PhD in Indo-European Studies from UCLA in 2010, worked at the LMU Munich as Akademischer Rat (2010–2017), and moved from there to the University of Richmond (2017–), where he is Associate Professor of Historical Linguistics in the Department of Classical Studies and the Linguistics Program. He is especially interested in the historical linguistics of Greek, Italic, and Indo-Iranian languages. One of his current projects involves the relationship between word order and information structure in Vedic prose texts.

picture of Xu BinbinWebinar: Binbin Xu (Xiamen University) - 论闽南方言多功能词“kaʔ”的音义共变模式 / The Coevolution of Form and Meaning of the Multifunctional Word kaʔ in Southern Min Dialects

Friday 15 March, 10:30 am-12pm (Dublin), 18:30 pm - 20:00 pm (Beijing)
Venue: Zoom
Register here:

本文在梳理沿海和内陆闽语30个方言点的基础上,详细分析闽南方言多功能词“合”的共时地理分布及阐释变异因素。再深入研究闽南方言功能词“kaʔ”的音义历时发展轨迹,讨论连词“kaʔ”、介词“kaʔ”的音义功能特征。本文认为“kaʔ”作为闽南方言多功能词,在音义演变孳乳过程中产生音义共变现象。“合(佮)”、“共”、“安* ”等功能词之间在一些语义和用法上实际上是音义共变关系,既有不同类型的来源,又有语素同一化现象。其中缘由,其一,闽南方言多地分歧的情况及大量的合音现象,导致一些用法出现交叉对举的形式;其二,特殊音变产生语义互用状况,进一步驱动句法糅合。


poster which details the same information as the text belowInternational conference: What We Talk About When We Talk About Haruki Murakami’s Translators: Their Roles and Significance (村上春樹の翻訳者について語るときに我々の語ること)

29th May 2024, 09:45 am -18:00pm (Tokyo)
The Haruki Murakami Library, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan (in Japanese/English)

30th May 2024, 09:45 am -18:30pm (Dublin)
Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation (TCLCT), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (in English)

Format: Hybrid

Translators take multiple roles. They do not just produce translations. They are also reliable advocates for the books, official representatives of source authors, and active commercial forces that promote the work on social media platforms, in literary journals and at book events. Haruki Murakami’s translators are no exception. Lai Mingzhu is considered the closest access point to Murakami by his fans in Taiwan, and regularly receives queries about the author and his work. Mette Holm reveals the process of translating Murakami’s work into Danish in the short documentary film, Dreaming Murakami (Anjaan 2017), adding another dimension to his novels for readers who do not know Japanese. Thus, Murakami’s translators have the power to shape and influence the way his works are received and read by the readers world-wide. This conference sheds light on Murakami’s translators and the significance of their roles in the publication and circulation of his novels.

picture of Muhammad Ilyas adn mountain rangeMuhammad Ilyas (Trinity College Dublin) - Light Verb Constructions in Balti, Tibetan

Tuesday 12 March, 4-5pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

This presentation explores the light verb constructions of Balti, a Tibetan language spoken in northern Pakistan. Light verbs form a distinct syntactic category, differing from main verbs in their predicational contribution and semantic content. They also differ from auxiliaries in various aspects such as case marking, combinatory restrictions, inflectional paradigms, and negation. In Balti, the light verbs include biɑ, t̪ɑŋ, pʰɑŋ, wɑ, and oŋ, always preceded by a noun, an adjective or another main verb. The preceding element provides complete semantic content, while the subsequent light verb conveys notions of activity, transfer, completion, coming to pass, and alternation. In the light verb construction, tense and aspect are expre
ssed through inflection on the light verb.

Muhammad Ilyas is a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, researching the Grammar of Balti, Tibetan, which he speaks natively. He earned his M.Phil in Linguistics from University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan in 2018.

profile picture of Jonathan SmithWebinar: Jonathan Smith (Christopher Newport University) - New digital resources for the study of historical and comparative Mǐn

Friday 8 March, 3:30-5pm (Dublin), 10:30am-12pm (Virginia)

Venue: Zoom
Register here:

Data on modern Mǐn languages is increasingly plentiful, and Romanized materials dating to the 19th century bear important early witness to the languages of Amoy, Teochew, Hokchiu, and others. However, many of these resources are difficult to access and leverage. In this talk, I aim to describe (1) key sources and their nature; (2) some of my recent efforts at organization and digitization; and also (3) a few notable language features thus rendered more amenable to study. For early works like Carstairs Douglas’s Church Romanization dictionary of Amoy (1873), the main issue is ease of search: a digitized database version of this text will finally allow easy application of computational tools. In the case of newer resources including the R.O.C. Ministry of Education’s online dictionary of Taiwanese Hokkien (2008–), the problem is accessibility to non-readers of Chinese: digital trilingual (Mǐn language / Mandarin / English) extensions of such texts will enable a broader range of scholars to work with Mǐn data. Wielded together, these new tools should allow closer and much more convenient study of important problems in historical and comparative Mǐn.

Jonathan Smith is Associate Professor of Chinese and director of the Chinese Studies program at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A. His academic focus is early Chinese language and writing, with one research strand exploring the relationship between formative elements of the script and prehistorical calendrical astronomy. Newer publications turn to the historical phonology of the southeastern Mǐn languages: improved comparative reconstructions of proto-Mǐn should lead us towards a more grounded and granular understanding of early Chinese. He is currently engaged in the collection and digitization of Mǐn language materials, especially of Romanized texts reflecting 19th century Hokkien varieties of Amoy (Xiàmén, Fújiàn province) and Taiwan.

picture of Skyscrapers of Shinjuku in 2009Japan and Ireland: A Conversation with Ambassador Maruyama Norio

Thursday 7 March 2024, 6.15pm

Neill Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin

The Trinity Centre for Asian Studies and the Trinity Long Room Hub are pleased to host a special discussion with His Excellency, Maruyama Norio, Ambassador of Japan to Ireland. The Ambassador will be welcomed by Professor Emma Stokes, Vice President for Global Engagement, and the discussion hosted by Professor Lorna Carson, Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Science, Trinity College Dublin.

RSVP Discussion with the Japanese Ambassador H.E. Maruyama Norio

profile picture of Yang-WanglongWebinar: Yang Wanglong (Xiamen University) - 沿海闽语强化类方位词重叠的共性特征 / Some universals of localizer reduplication with intensified meaning in inshore-Min dialects

Note: This event is in Chinese

Friday 1 March, 10:30am-12:00pm (Dublin), 6:30-8pm (Beijing)

Venue: Zoom
Register here:


杨望龙,男,1990年生,海南琼海人,浙江大学博士、博士后;现为厦门大学中国语言文学系助理教授、硕士生导师;主要研究领域:历史语言学、接触语言学与语言类型学,近年重点关注海南岛的闽语与少数民族语言接触性语法演变;已在《方言》《语言科学》《语言学论丛》Studies in Language 等刊物发表论文十余数;主持国家社科基金1项,省部级项目2项。


picture of Mahāyāna literature scriptSichuan: Diversity, Heritage, and Transformation

Thursday 1 February 2024, 12:30-4:30pm

Trinity Long Room Hub, Neill Lecture Theatre

This half-day research symposium explores the diverse cultures of Sichuan, China. The event includes three talks from scholars based at Trinity and two international guests, with talks on a range of topics, including mountain deity worship, indigenous language documentation, the cultural conceptualisation of space, and reflections of research at the province level. Supported by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Events Fund and in collaboration with Dublin Lunar New Year 2024 (Year of the Dragon), the event promises to be an engaging exploration of Sichuan's rich tapestry of languages and cultures.

More information can be found here

picture of Mahāyāna literature scriptAlexander James O’Neill (SOAS University of London) – Breaking the Textual Fourth Wall: On Paratextuality and Self-Referentiality in Mahāyāna Sūtra Literature

Thursday 18 January 2024, 5:30-7pm

Arts Building, Room 4050A

A prominent feature of many Mahāyāna sūtras is the presence of self-referential passages, where texts refer to themselves by title, praising and recommending themselves for worship. Unlike paratexts, which influence how readers approach a text through external commentaries or notes, these self-referential passages are integrated into the body of the text itself. This talk will outline various types of self-referential passages, such as those encouraging the practice, preservation, and propagation of the text, suggesting a tentative taxonomy of motifs in Mahāyāna sūtra literature.

The presentation also explores to what extent such passages are unique to Mahāyāna literature, suggesting their particular significance in promoting new texts and doctrines within early Mahāyāna communities while also touching upon possible parallels in the non-Buddhist purāṇa literature. Regarding applications and use cases for the identification and tracking of self-referentiality in sūtra literature, the talk presents the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā as one such use case, where self-referentiality appears to provide insights into the structure and development of the sūtra.

Alexander James O'Neill is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at SOAS University of London. He completed his PhD in Religion from the University of Toronto in 2022, receiving the Joseph Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship and the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai Canada Graduate Scholarship. Specialising in Sanskrit Buddhist texts from South Asia and contemporary Buddhist practices in the Kathmandu Valley, he is preparing a monograph on the topic of Buddhist book worship. At SOAS, his research focuses on egophoricity in Newar and developing natural language processing (NLP) solutions to Newar language research, such as handwritten text recognition (HTR) and automatic speech recognition (ASR).

picture of old chinese scriptMario De Grandis (University College Dublin) - Mapping the Central-Peripheral Dynamic: Literary Platforms in the Field of Huizu wenxue

Thursday 9 November, 5-6pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor.

In recent decades, Sinophone literary studies has emphasized cultural and language-based modes of identification, with the stated goal of moving away from the traditional conceptualization of China as constituted by a central cultural core and its peripheries. This shift, however, artificially obscures the state-established platforms for the creation, promotion, and evaluation of ethnic minority literatures (shaoshu minzu wenxue). Drawing on textual analysis and fieldwork interviews, this talk explores how Hui literature (Huizu wenxue) relies primarily on two state-funded publishers: Ningxia People's Press and the journal Hui Literature. Following state’s policies and relying on state-funding, these two publishers have created a Hui literary canon and facilitated literary exchanges with the Arab-speaking world, thus playing a central role in channeling Hui literature, both nationally and internationally. Although geographically and symbolically displaced from China’s economic and political centers, the literary initiatives carried on by Ningxia People’s Press (Yinchuan, Ningxia) and Hui Literature (Changji, Xinjiang) are central for the existence of Hui literature in China and for its crisscross exchanges with the Middle East. For this reason, I argue that they are best characterized as “central peripheries.”

Mario De Grandis is Assistant Professor/Lecturer at the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies at University College Dublin. He earned his Ph.D. in modern Chinese literature from the Ohio State University in 2021. Dr. De Grandis's research primarily focuses on ethnic minority literature (shaoshu minzu wenxue 少数民族文学) and its cinematic adaptations. "Ethnicity in Print," one of his upcoming article in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, was initially presented at the workshop "A glimpse at the world of the Rgyalrongs" held here at TCD in August 2022. In addition to his academic pursuits, Mario is an active translator. He has contributed subtitles to documentaries and translated works of fiction from Chinese into his native language, Italian. His translations include documentaries by prominent artist Ai Weiwei and literary works by the Uighur author Alat Asem.

picture of old chinese scriptJingqi Ying (TCD) - The Old Chinese Sound Change *-ps > *-ts > -jH: Insights from Zhou Excavated Documents

Tuesday 7 November, 4- 5:30pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor.

Linguists generally believe that the Old Chinese sound change *-ps > *-ts is took place early enough to affect rhyming in the Book of Odes, i.e., during the Zhou Dynasty (Pullyblank 1961-2, Bodman 1980, Starostin 1989, Baxter 1992, etc.). However, some scholars in Chinese paleography hold the more cautious view that the rhyme patterns in the Odes are not enough to prove that this sound change occurred in the Western Zhou Dynasty. They argue that these patterns may be due to the scarcity of characters with the *-ps coda, and that the sound change took place later. Such scholars point to the evidence of graphic structure (xiéshēng) and spelling variation (tōngjiǎ) in Warring States excavated documents as more reliable evidence that the sound change occurred no later than this period (Fuhai Zhang 2019). This talk examines the Western Zhou excavated documents and use of xiéshēng and tōngjiǎ evidence to argue that the sound change *-ps > *-ts did indeed occur in this period. I believe that this provides additional evidence to support the view that this sound change took place early in the history of Chinese.

Jinqi Ying is a PhD student at Trinity College Dublin, researching the reconstruction of Old Chinese consonant clusters. She earned her BA at Xiamen University in 2020 and her Masters in Chinese Paleography from Fudan University in 2023.

4 abstract chinese pictures- like postcardsWenqing Kang (Cleveland State University) - Reemergence of Public Discussion on Homosexuality in 1980s and 1990s China

Thursday 19 October, 5-6pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor.

In the first half of the 20th century, Chinese intellectuals introduced the new Western concept of Homosexuality to China and at the same time appropriated it with age – old indigenous understandings of same-sex relations. In the historical context of Western and Japanese imperialist threat, the process produced a variety of new meanings of homosexuality in modern China. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, however, open discussion about same-sex relations became very rare and the term homosexuality disappeared from the public. But the reform era (from the late 1970s onward) saw a reemergence of media representation, medical discourse, sociological studies on the issue of homosexuality. This talk will discuss the content of those texts and provide a historical context of this phenomenon.  

Wenqing Kang is a historian of gender and sexuality in China who is visiting Trinity for the 2023/24 academic year from the History Department of Cleveland State University, USA. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research focuses on male same-sex relations in modern China. His book Obsession: Male Same-Sex Relations in China, 1900-1950 (Hong Kong University Press) reveals how nationalism and colonial modernity reconfigured Chinese discourses on sex between men in the first half of the 20th century. He is now writing a book on male same-sex relations in the PRC from 1949 to the present, drawing on interviews and library and archival resources.

picture of a protestor being led away by securityWilliam Marotti (UCLA) - The Performance of Police and the Theater of Protest, from Japan 1968 to BLM

Thursday 28 September, 5-6pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

Backlash to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 often characterized the protests as merely “performative” and “theatrical.” My presentation draws upon my historical work on 1968 protest and performance to offer a counterargument from the standpoint of both protest analytics and theories of performance.

Examining events surrounding 1968 in Japan, I have analyzed police riots, strategic uses of violence by protesters, radical theater and happenings, ostentatious countercultural lifestyles, and form-defying experimental dance and art. My presentation considers this history in arguing for the need to reconceptualize police-protest confrontations first and foremost as confrontations against normalized understandings and practices, on the side of activist politics, and on the other, as a police defense of norms and of state legitimacy, including that of the use of force. Confrontations on the street thus involve an irreducible performance.

William Marotti is an Associate Professor of History and Chair of the East Asian Studies MA IDP Program at UCLA. He teaches modern Japanese history with an emphasis on everyday life and cultural-historical issues. Marotti's Money, Trains and Guillotines: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan (Duke University Press, 2013) addresses politics in Japan in the 1960s through a focus upon avant-garde artistic production and performance. His current book project, “The Art of Revolution: Politics and Aesthetic Dissent in Japan’s 1968,” analyzes cultural politics and oppositional practices in Japan with particular emphasis on 1968 as a global event.

Photo credit: Ishiguro Kenji

picture of Muhammad_Zakaria looking into the distanceMuhammad Zakaria (Independent researcher) - The Historical Development of Causative/Applicative and Middle Constructions in Southeastern and Southwestern Kuki-Chin

Tuesday 26 September, 4-5:30pm

TRiSS Seminar Room, Arts Building, sixth floor

This talk argues for the shared origin of two valence-affecting constructions in South Central Tibeto-Burman, specifically Southeastern and Southwestern Kuki-Chin. They propose that these constructions, despite seeming unrelated, may indicate a closer relationship between Southeastern and Southwestern languages within this subgroup. Notably, both regions have similar morphological elements indicating causative and applicative functions. Southeastern Kuki-Chin, exemplified in Hyow, shows similar middle marker morphology. The authors suggest a common origin involving initial causative or comitative applicative elements, evolving into middle markers in Southeastern languages while retaining some applicative semantics. This parallels a situation in West Africa where causative, applicative, and middle semantics have evolved from an original 'co-participation' marker in Wolof. The paper aims to comprehensively explore these linguistic phenomena and their semantic evolution.

Muhammad Zakaria completed his PhD in 2018 at Nanyang Technological University. He specializes in the Kuki-Chin languages of Bangladesh and Myanmar, including morphosyntax, historical linguistics, and oral literature. Following his doctoral studies, he conducted postdoctoral research as a ELDP research fellow at SOAS University of London and a JSPS fellow at Osaka University, Japan, where he focused on the project "Reconstruction of Middle-Marking Morphology and Its Functions in Southern Chin." He has a grammar of Hyow forthcoming with De Gruyter.

TCAS hosts two lectures by Visiting Professor Tristan Brown (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

picture of the tomb- a semi circle contruction in a serene environmentTristan Brown (MIT) - The Unlikely Audiences of a Muslim King’s Shrine in China

Tuesday 16 May, 4-5pm

Trinity Long Room Hub, Neill Lecture Theatre

In 1417, a Muslim King of Sulu (today part of the Philippines) died unexpectedly during a diplomatic visit to Ming China (1368-1644). In keeping with Islamic requirements, the Chinese emperor arranged a quick burial and ordered a mausoleum constructed to mark the king’s resting place. The king’s descendants who stayed to maintain the site acculturated into the local Hui (“Chinese Muslim”) community, which survives to the present. The shrine itself was “rediscovered” in the 1970s by the Chinese and Philippine states as the pre-eminent symbol of their “600 years of diplomatic relations.” This paper investigates the shrine’s backstory, which involves a surprising history of community resilience. Pushing against contemporary nationalist narratives, the talk shows that the shrine never was representative of a continuous Sino-Philippine tributary relationship. More significant were the communities within China who found protection in the transnational shrine’s existence.

picture of ancient FengShui symbolsTristan Brown (MIT) - Laws of the Land: Fengshui and the State in Qing Dynasty China

Thursday 11 May, 4-5pm

Arts Building sixth floor, TRiSS Seminar Room

Fengshui, literally "Wind and Water," was deeply intertwined with public life and law during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Facing a growing population, dwindling natural resources, and an overburdened rural government, judicial administrators across China grappled with disputes and petitions about fengshui in their efforts to sustain forestry, farming, mining, and city planning. This talk discusses fengshui's fascinating roles in the law and politics of the last dynasty through archival cases, official handbooks, and divination manuals.

Tristan G. Brown is Assistant Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is a social and cultural historian of late imperial and modern China. His research focuses on the ways in which law, science, environment, and religion interacted in China from the seventeenth to early twentieth centuries. His first book draws on Qing judicial archives and cartographic materials to investigate the uses of cosmology in imperial Chinese law. He is also preparing a second project that employs Chinese, Arabic, and Manchu sources to reveal how Islam was practiced as a local religion in late imperial China.

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Sojin LimSojin Lim (University of Central Lancashire) - International Aid and Sustainable Development in North Korea

Thursday 13 April, 6:30-7:30pm

Trinity College Dublin, Arts Building, Room 4047

The continuing tensions between North and South Korea prompt one to question whether the decades of efforts toward peace and the eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula have been futile. However, there is still a need to identify ways in which progress can be made towards a resolution. To this end, Dr Sojin Lim will share her observations on recent changes in North Korea and her perspective on the potential for openness and change through international aid and inter-Korean cooperation. Specifically, the discussion will examine the implications of these factors on the prospects of reunification.

Sojin Lim is Reader in Asia Pacific Studies at University of Central Lancaster, where she is also co-director of the International Institute of Korean Studies (IKSU). She has published extensively on North Korea, in particular from the perspective of international relations.

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Lingzi ZhuangLingzi Zhuang (University of Toronto Mississauga) - A preliminary “mix-ology” of messy Tibetan verb paradigms

Wednesday 12 April, 4-5pm

Trinity Long Room Hub, Galbraith Room

This talk treats the origins of “mixed and slightly messy” verb paradigms in Tibetan. A non-trivial subset of Tibetan verb paradigms display various forms of irregularity and as-yet poorly explained root alternation, including ablaut (Hill 2010, 2019; Jacques 2012; Bialek 2020), immutable g-prefixation (Zhuang 2022), and initial voicing alternation which supposedly, but not always, correlates with transitivity (Uray 1953; Hill 2014; Bialek 2020). This landscape is further complicated by inconsistencies across lexicographical and dialectal data sources. The talk presents ongoing research which seeks to argue that this apparent messiness can be explained in a principled way, namely, as the result of suppletion operating on previously underrecognized morphological/semantic processes and plausibly much older root alternations.

Lingzi Zhuang is an Assistant Professor at University of Toronto Mississauga. His main areas are semantics, pragmatics, and Sino-Tibetan linguistics. He is interested in formal approaches to types of meaning, their variation across languages and across semantic phenomena, and their mechanisms of diachronic change. While the theoretical arm of his work focuses on speech act-level phenomena (evidentiality, mirativity, attitudinal expressions) and nominal reference, he maintains an areal-historical specialty in Sino-Tibetan languages of the Himalayas and China, and works on issues in Bodish reconstruction.

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Hannes FellnerHannes A. Fellner (University of Vienna) - 名不正,則言不順– Language contact in the borderlands of the Western Regions

Friday 31 March, 4-5pm

Galbraith Room, Trinity Long Room Hub

The study of language contact between ancient Indo-European languages and older varieties of Chinese is still in its infancy. Work dedicated to this issue – with very few exceptions – tends to be methodologically flawed: it suffers from a lack of understanding of the Indo-European languages in the vicinity of the area where Chinese was spoken and/or a lack of understanding of the older varieties of Chinese; it ignores the philological background on both ends of the loan relation and/or neglects historical and cultural constraints on contact situations. The recent advances in Indo-European linguistics and philology, especially regarding Tocharian – the old Indo-European language closest to ancient China – and the progress made in the study of older varieties of Chinese are the basis for a new look on language contact.

In this presentation, plausible loan words will be (re)examined based on new research in Indo-European and Chinese philology and linguistics. This will shed new light on cultural contacts on ancient China’s western frontiers and on the linguistic reconstruction of the involved languages.

Hannes A. Fellner is Associate Professor of historical linguistics and digital philology at the University of Vienna. His research focusses on Indo-European morphology and morpho-syntax, historical and comparative linguistics and philology of the Indo-European languages of the ancient Silk Road, and theoretical approaches to language change. He is the director of the Austrian Institute for Research on China and Southeast Asia and a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Profile picture of Nathaniel SimsNathaniel Sims (CRLAO-CNRS) - A roadmap to reconstructing proto-Rma

Wednesday 22 March, 4-5pm

Arts Building, Room 4073

Rma is a language spoken along the upper reaches of the Min River in Northwestern Sichuan, China. Rma is a member of the Trans-Himalayan language family. Thus, it is related to Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese. However, unlike these languages, Rma does not have a long tradition of writing, and the history of the language subgroup is not well understood.

The purpose of this talk is to discuss issues related to historical reconstruction of proto-Rma in light of recent advancements in the documentation of the language, and to discuss what this can tell us about the relationship between Rma and other languages of the family. To date, the most comprehensive treatment of Rma historical linguistics is Evans (2001). Evans etymologized over one thousand Rma forms and proposed reconstructions for certain southern varieties. Since Evans’ study, there have been many publications on previously undocumented varieties which broaden the empirical basis for studies of the history of the language: Ronghong (LaPolla & Huang 2003), Qugu (LaPolla & Poa 2003, Huang & Zhou 2006), Hongyan (Evans 2006), Puxi (Huang 2007), Yonghe (Sims 2014), Xiaoxing (Huang et al. 2019). Thus, the time is ripe for work on historical reconstruction of which incorporates these publications.

This talk will discuss the reconstruction of the segmental phonology, including consonants and vowels, syllable structure, as well as suprasegmental phonology such as tonal distinctions. It will also discuss the development of the verb-complex, and other larger constructions in Rma. This talk will present a ‘recipe’ for reconstructing a form in proto-Rma and discuss cover some of the insights that can be gained by internal reconstruction, loanwords from other languages, as well as loanwords from Rma into other languages, and some of the methodological issues in historical reconstruction of a language without a long written tradition.

Nathaniel Sims is a linguist whose work is focusses on languages of the eastern Himalayan region, including Rma (also called Qiang), Tibetan, and Rgyalrongic languages. He grew up in Sichuan and first became interested in the region’s minority languages, because he was friends with classmates who spoke these languages. Since 2006 he has been involved with collaborative, community-based documentation of Rma since 2006. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2021 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS-INALCO-CRLAO) in Paris.

picture of Mel Cousins Mel Cousins (Trinity College Dublin) - Getting old before getting rich? Challenges to the sustainability of the Chinese pension system

Friday 2 December 2022, 12-1pm

Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Arts Building Annex, Room 2012

This presentation examines the sustainability of the Chinese urban pensions system – the main component in China’s overall old age support system. It looks at the sustainability of the system overall and, in particular, at the extent of regional variations and the common challenges facing Chinese policy makers. Given the experience to date, of slow progress on various aspects of pension policy reform, I argue that it seems unlikely that paradigmatic change will be significant. Nonetheless, there are a range of parametric policy measures which can either help or hinder China’s attempts to address the challenge. The challenge for China’s policy-makers will be to ensure that China gets old and rich at the same time.

Mel Cousins is visiting research fellow at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, TCD. He works as social protection consultant for a range of international agencies including the EU, ILO and UNICEF and has worked in a wide range of European and Asian countries including China. He has written extensively on Chinese social protection and pension policy.

Raymond J. Davidson Jr. (Trinity College Dublin & Rowan University) - Zhuangzi and Rorty: Contingency, Irony, and Cruelty

Friday 4 November 2022, 12-1pm
Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Arts Building Annex, Room 2012


Picure of Raymond J. Davidson (Trinity College Dublin & Rowan University) In the early 20th century, American thinkers, particularly those associated within the pragmatist tradition, were at the helm for a push in comparative thought. John Dewey and George Santayana both emphasised the importance of comparative work, and wrote as such in the inaugural edition of the journal Philosophy East and West. However, the Pragmatist Revival in the 1970s did little to rekindle this comparative approach. The leader of this revival was Richard Rorty, who spoke highly of Dewey, but spoke very poorly about what Asian Philosophy could offer the Western, Anglo-American thinker. Despite this, Rorty’s philosophy shares similar themes with the philosophies of East-Asia. In this lecture, I attempt to draw the similarities between Rorty’s philosophy and that which is found in the work of Zhuangzi. Both Zhuangzi and Rorty share a skepticism of representation, and this permeates throughout both philosophical dispositions. I will show that three important themes that undergird Rorty’s work, namely, contingency, irony, and cruelty, can also be found in Zhuangzi’s.

Raymond J. Davidson Jr. teaches at Trinity College Dublin and Rowan University. He is also a member of the ERC project Arabic Poetry in the Cairo Genizah based at Trinity in close collaboration with Cambridge University. Ray’s research interests are intercultural and comparative thought; social, political, and moral philosophy; gender and sexuality; literature and film as philosophical mediums; Asian Thought; American Pragmatism; environmental thought; and pedagogy.


Shigeki Nakagome (Trinity College Dublin) - A paleogenomic time travel to pre- and proto-historic Japan

Friday 21 October 2022, 12-1pm
Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Arts Building Annex, Room 2012

  Picture of Shigeki Nakagome (Trinity College Dublin)Where and how did modern Japanese populations originate? This intriguing question is now addressable by paleogenomics, in which DNA materials are recovered from archaeological specimens and sequenced for genomic analysis. This interdisciplinary approach has opened a new avenue to decoding thehuman past. While the Japanese archipelago has been occupied by humans for at least 38,000 years, its most radical cultural transformations have only occurred within the last 3,000 years, during which time its inhabitants quickly transitioned from foraging to widespread rice farming to a technologically advanced imperial state. However, the impact of agricultural and sociocultural changes on the genetic makeup of Japanese populations remains unclear. In this talk, Shigeki Nakagome will discuss the power and applicability of paleogenomics in untangling the genetic legacy of cultural transitions in Japan.

Shigeki Nakagome received his Ph.D. in Human Genetics at the University of Tokyo in 2010. As a postdoctoral researcher, he first joined The Institute of Statistical Mathematics from 2011 to 2013 and then moved to the University of Chicago to gain further postdoctoral training. Since 2016, he has been leading an independent research group at Trinity College Dublin. He has consolidated his position as a rising leader in the field of paleogenomics, gaining expertise in population genetics, statistical modelling, and functional genomics. He is recognized for his pioneering contributions to the development of statistical methods and the discovery of a novel model of the origins of modern Japanese populations.


misty mountain in ChinaThe changing pronunciation of Chinese during the Han dynasty: applying graph theory to poetic rhymes

Friday 14 October, 10am-4pm:

Trinity Long Room Hub, Neill Lecture Theatre, Trinity College Dublin
Chinese is famous for its short simple words, its tones, and its simple grammar, but in the distant past Chinese was a very different language; Old Chinese (1300-100 BCE) lacked tones, had consonant clusters as impressive as those of German or Georgian, and it used prefixes and suffixes to form new words. By 602 CE, the date of the earliest Chinese pronunciation dictionary, Middle Chinese was already recognizably a form of the language we known today. How did Chinese change so much? The Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) holds the key; it was the first enduring empire in Chinese history, and among the most formative periods for Chinese thought and literature.
This one-day workshop will present the current results of ongoing research on Han dynasty poetry, using the digital humanities techniques of graph theory. These methods promise to unlock new insights into the history of Chinese pronunciation and adjudicate areas of current controversy.

10:00-10:15am - Welcome
10:15-11:00am - James Engels (SOAS), "The contribution of the Xiesheng hypothesis to competing theories of the Old Chinese vowel system" [remote presentation]
11:00-11:45am - Ash Henson (SOAS), "Using network theory for detecting rhyme communities in Han Dynasty rhyming texts"
11:45am-12:30pm - Nathan W. Hill (TCD), "The abstractions adequate to Chinese historical phonology"
12:30-1:30pm - Lunch
1:30-2:15pm - Julien Baley (Microsoft), "Evaluating rhyme annotations for large corpora: metrics and data"
2:15-3:00pm - Chris Foster (SOAS), "Evidence for final *-r in the Cang Jie pian and other primers"
3:00-3:45pm - Jeff Tharsen (Chicago) TBC [remote presentation]
3:45-4:00pm - Closing


picture of Isabella Weber. Agata Karbowska (Jagiellonian University) - Sino-African Relations and the War in Ukraine

Wednesday 28 September 2022, 12-1pm

Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Arts Building Annex, Room 2012

Most of the world has recently been focused on the events in Ukraine. Analysts and officials from the US and Europe have sharply criticized China's stance, but the view of African countries is quite different. Has China's stance on the Russo-Ukrainian war influenced and influenced the Africans? And do African governments find China's position confusing or contradictory, as some US and European analysts have complained? Some analysts have suggested that Beijing was seeking to strengthen international support for its stance on the war in Ukraine. Maybe, but this was not the main impetus for the latest series of bilateral meetings.

The 11th special session of the United Nations (2 March 2022) ended with a vote approving the non-binding Resolution 377A (V), which reaffirmed the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine and demanded immediate, total and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian armed forces from the territory of Ukraine. According to a Development Reimagined analysis, 51% of African countries voted in favor of the resolution, while the rest abstained or were absent. Eritrea was the only African country to vote against the resolution. While some have suggested that this inconsistent voice is due to the various existing ties between African countries and Russia – especially when it comes to mercenary soldiers – it is possible that China has influenced African views as well.

Recently, the Chinese authorities held a series of meetings with many African leaders. Some analysts interpret this as a desire to strengthen the Chinese position on the Russo-Ukrainian war. To better understand why the timing and content of these meetings, we must also at the priorities of African leaders in their engagement with China.

Agata Karbowska is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of the Middle and Far East at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, from which she received her Ph.D. in Political Science. She teaches slavery and colonialism in Africa and modern socio-political history of Africa. She has been granted scholarship by the Türkiye Scholarships Evaluation Committee and lectured at the University of İstanbul Şehir (Center for Modern Turkish Studies). She is author of a number of books and papers in sufism, political Islam, socio-political, religious and cultural problems in MENA. Currently focusing on Africa, especially political Islam in Sub-Saharian Africa.

picture of trinity college at duskUnderstanding the Constitution of Japan: comparison and analysis

Tuesday 30 August, 1:30-4:15pm:

Neil Lecture Theatre, Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin
Attendance is free. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Dr David Kenny <> at your earliest convenience.


The Constitution of Japan of 1947 is, perhaps, one of the world’s most interesting constitutions. Written during the Allied Occupation under the supervision of General Douglas MacArthur, it is widely approved of and respected in Japan, and is currently the oldest unamended constitution in the world.

Understanding the Japanese Constitution and its operation can be challenging for those not immersed in Japanese law and culture, due to language barriers and differences in outlook or approach. This seminar aims to make the Japanese Constitution, and its importance, clear to a broader audience. Featuring short talks from five of Japan’s leading constitutional scholars, it will look at several of the most interesting and distinctive features of the Japanese Constitution, and offer perspectives and reflection on areas of overlap and interest to Irish or western constitutional orders.

Hosted by the Trinity Centre for Constitutional Governance (TriCON) in association with the Long Room Hub, this seminar will be of interest to students, academics, and those with an interest in law, political science, Asian Studies, and more.  

picture of Isabella Weber. Webinar: Isabella Weber (University of Massachusetts Amherst) - Price Controls versus Economic Warfare: Hyperinflation and the Communist Revolution

Friday 1 April, 12-1pm

Register here:

Price stability is a major challenge during wartime. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The success of strategies to cope with inflationary pressures that follow from financing war is dependent on the specific economic structures and channels of economic integration. Most economists initially rejected far-ranging price controls, but almost all belligerent powers in World War II ultimately reverted to wide-ranging price controls in pursuit of price stability. In the U.S. the Office of Price Administration implemented a complete price freeze and achieved high production growth at relatively stable prices in World War II compared with the First World War. Galbraith, a top American price administrator, theorised the success of price controls: in the highly concentrated industrial structure of the U.S. prices were not free even in the absence of state control. So, it was relatively easy to fix prices that are already fixed. For the same reasons that the price control policy worked in the U.S. it failed dramatically in China’s civil war when the Nationalists and their American advisors tried to replicate the success. China’s economy was largely agrarian with small scale producers and economic integration had splintered in the prolonged combats. Ultimately, the Communists succeeded in bringing hyperinflation down with so-called economic warfare, a strategy of commercial reintegration through the reestablishment of market links for essential goods and outspeculating the speculators by drawing together the resources of state commercial agencies to flood markets and reverse price spikes.

Isabella M. Weber is a political economist working on China, global trade and the history of economic thought. She is an Assistant Professor of Economics and the Research Leader for China of the Asian Political Economy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Her first book How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate has received numerous prizes including the Joan Robinson Prize 2021 and the International Studies Association Best Interdisciplinary Book Award. For her work on the rise of economics in China’s recent history she has won the International Convention of Asia Scholars’ Ground-breaking Subject Matter Accolade and the Warren Samuels Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in History of Economic Thought and Methodology. Previously she was a Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, and was principal investigator of the ESRC-funded Rebuilding Macroeconomics project 'What Drives Specialization? A Century of Global Export Patterns.' Isabella holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the New School for Social Research, New York, and a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge.

picture of a book cover about Tamil Marxism in Hindi Webinar: Rebecca E. Karl (New York University) - The Socialist Law of Value and the Rural Economy: Wang Yanan and Marxism in China, 1950s.

Friday 25 March, 12-1pm :

Register here:

If the Law of Value – as a proposition about how surplus gets extracted and distributed socially – is a law that pertains to capitalist economies, how did theorists in China in the early 1950s try to re-theorize a socialist law of value that was not about exploitation, alienation, and appropriation, but that was about social redistribution and the creation of an economy that could overcome the production of rural-urban unevenness and instead produce the conditions for an equitable socialist economics? The debates about the law of value were highly technical from 1953 onwards, and they became highly politicized as well through the Great Leap Forward. This paper intends to take seriously the attempt to theorize a socialist economics, and in particular the question of rural extraction for urban industrialization, through the (unsuccessful) attempts to transcend the capitalist law of value in 1950s China. The Marxist philosopher, Wang Yanan, was at the center of these debates.

Rebecca E. Karl is a Professor of History at New York University. An author and co-editor of many books, her most recent is China's Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History (Verso 2020). She is co-founder of Critical China Scholars ( and co-editor in the collective.

picture of Edmin Michielsen in Chinese. Webinar: Edwin Michielsen (University of Toronto) - Celebrating the Proletariat: May Day Strikes and Syntheses of Solidarity

Friday 4 March 2022, 12-1pm

Register here: 

In the talk, I will present my doctoral research that examines the theories and practices of proletarian international solidarity during the 1920s and 1930s in East Asia. Locating its arguments in concurrent proletarian theories of labor, linguistics, gender, and war as well as literary and art criticism, my dissertation argues that such theoretico-practical manifestations of solidarity did not merely follow a party and union allegiance based on unidirectional and monolithic forms of organization, but were assembled in constant-changing and multi-directional alliances.

To Illustrate the above, I will discuss praxes of assembling solidarity found in the intermedial cultural and literary production surrounding May Day, the International Workers’ Day. Celebrating the intimate relationships between political struggles through mass strikes and demonstrations against imperial capitalist oppression worldwide, proletarian writers and artists aimed to weave together innumerable spatial experiences into cohesive proletarian spacetimes. Proletarian artists stitched spatial gaps between proletarian sites of resistance through photographic collages and filmic montages, while simultaneously historicizing and critiquing the production of unevenness among these sites. May Day photographs, films, plays, and songs created through juxtaposition and adjacency a pastiche of proletarian resistance and struggles, synthesizing parts of social and material realities aimed to exceed the realm of artistic production by exercising among participants a mental perception and constitution of an interconnected and multifaceted world. Such attempts also found voice in literary practices. Murayama Tomoyoshi’s play Shōri no kiroku (Record of Victory, 1931) presents a narrative showing how proletarians in Shanghai try to form alliances for the celebration of May Day to overcome divisions in their resistance against imperial capitalism while situating their local struggles within the context of proletarian struggles worldwide.

Edwin Michielsen received his BA and MA in Japanese Studies from Leiden University and his PhD in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto in 2021. His dissertation “Assembling Solidarity: Proletarian Arts and Internationalism in East Asia” examines a literary and cultural history of proletarian arts across East Asia during the 1920s and 1930s and their investment in international solidarity. He is currently a course instructor at the University of Toronto, where he teaches courses in East Asian literature and history.

picture of a book cover about Tamil Marxism in Hindi Webinar: Viren Murthy (University of Wisconsin Madison) - Back to the Future: Reflections on Tamil Marxism, Anti-Colonial Nationalism and Identity Politics .

Friday 25 Feb, 4.30-5.30pm :

Register here:

Marxism in Tamil Nadu emerged in a concrete context, where authors and activists constantly argued about the relationship between caste and class. In this presentation, I emphasize how a recent discussion in Tamil Marxism converges with a global problematic concerning a politics of time and different understandings of capitalism. The Marxists I will examine here, N. Muthumogan and N. Gunasekaran are both affiliated with the Communist Party India-Marxist (CPIM) and are prolific in print and on the internet. In 2010, Muthumogan wrote an essay entitled “Peasant India and Communists,” which was originally a lecture delivered at conference celebrating the 85th anniversary of the Indian Communist Party and the essay was eventually published in January, 2011 in a journal called, “Our Library (ungal nuulagam).” In this essay, Muthumogan argued for an alliance between Tamil identity, Dalit identity and a class-based movement against capitalism. Against this, N. Gunasekaran wrote a series of rebuttals arguing that identity politics runs fundamentally counter to the Marxist project. He contends that “the perspective of identity politics is narrow and therefore one cannot construct a class politics on this base.” This debate overlaps with an opposition Marxism between those engage in a politics of tradition, identity and time and those who argue that any type of identity politics reproduces capitalism and more specifically neo-liberalism. I contend that we can situate the above-mentioned debate in relation to Marxists stress the dominance of the value form, who downplay the relevance of anti-imperialist or Third World Marxism and those who emphasize the incompleteness of capitalist subsumption. Muthumogan draws on arguments similar to those who stress the formal or incomplete subsumption of capital to highlight the continuing relevance of Tamil traditions for socialism. 

Viren Murthy is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his Ph.D. in 2007 at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Zhang Taiyan: The Resistance of Consciousness (Brill, 2011) and has published articles on Chinese and Japanese intellectual history in Modern Intellectual History, Modern China, and elsewhere. He has a forthcoming book entitled, The Politics of Time in China and Japan: Back to the Future (Routledge, 2022) and he is currently completing a monograph tentatively entitled Pan-Asianism and the Legacy of the Chinese Revolutions, which examines how philosophies of resistance intersect with visions of transnational identity and hopes for an alternative future. 


Webinar: Li Shang (Swansea University) - A fresh look at Marx's understanding of the Asiatic mode of production

Friday 4 February 2022, 12-1pm


The validity and implication of the Asiatic mode of production [AMP] has become one of the most controversial issues in Marxist theory since Marx mentioned this concept. A huge space for understanding and misunderstanding is bequeathed by Marx’s oeuvre because he never systematically elaborated on it in his published work. Based on a close reading of Marx’s texts and their contemporary interpretations, the possibility of understanding the mode of production in terms of property relations could be achieved by clarifying the two-fold character of property; the validity of the AMP could be demonstrated by decomposing historical modes of production into two dimensions; its implications and its historical geography could be clarified and located by distinguishing it from other modes of production.

Shang Li is a PhD candidate in Department of Geography, Swansea University. He is interested in classical Marxism and Marxist geography. He has submitted his thesis, entitled Reorienting Historical-geographical Materialism: A Critique of Geopolitical Economy, in September 2021.

Old postcard style picture of chinese lady and childDr Yushu Geng, 'From Wise Mother/Good Wife to Tiger Mom: women in 20th century China'.

Tuesday 1 February 2022, 6pm:

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The term ‘tiger mom’, coined by Chinese-American law scholar Amy Chua in her 2011 memoir to describe Chinese moms who practised strict parenting to ensure their children’s success, sometimes at the expense of their social and emotional development, quickly gained global popularity. Despite this concept’s deep roots in Confucianism and Chinese culture, Chinese moms had not always been tiger moms. How was motherhood viewed in China in the past? How did the transformation of an imperial dynasty to a Republic, then to a communist state, and finally to ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ affect women and mothers in 20th century China? In this talk, Dr Yushu Geng will explore the changing notions of ideal womanhood and motherhood in China’s long twentieth century.

Yushu Geng is a historian of modern China with a particular focus on women and gender. Prior to working at Trinity College Dublin as a postdoctoral researcher, she studied at Durham University and University of Cambridge. 

picture of classic Chinese tigerWebinar: Professor Nathan Hill, 'The word for 'tiger' in Chinese and other Asian languages'.  

Monday 31 January 2022, 6pm

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This talk will explore the history of the Chinese word 虎 hú ‘tiger’. I will first explain the reasoning that leads some scholars to reconstruct *qʰˤraʔ as the Zhou dynasty (c. 1046 BC – 256 BC) pronunciation of this word. I will then consider evidence that the word started with a t- and possible connections to the Tibetan word stag ‘tiger’ and the Japanese word tora ‘tiger’.

Nathan W. Hill is Sam Lam Professor in Chinese Studies and as the new Director of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies. His research focusses on Tibeto-Burman/Sino-Tibetan historical linguistics. His books include The Historical Phonology of Tibetan, Burmese, and Chinese (2019, Cambridge), A Lexicon of Tibetan Verb Stems as Reported by the Grammatical Tradition (2010, Bavarian Academy of Sciences), and Old Tibetan Inscriptions, co-authored with Kazushi Iwao (2009, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies).

Profile picture of Dong Jin KimDr Dong Jin Kim, 'Global Health Diplomacy and North Korea: Ending the Quarantine of Humanitarianism in 2022'.

Friday 28 January, 6pm:

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If states formulate their foreign policy based on national interest, when is humanitarianism towards people outside their jurisdiction justified? As captured in the phrase, ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’, the COVID-19 era is the time to end the quarantine of humanitarian action from international politics. This talk explores how global health diplomacy, including the provision of COVID-19 vaccines for the vulnerable population in North Korea, would be in the enlightened self-interest of donor countries, as well as a global responsibility.

Dong Jin is Irish School of Ecumenics Senior Research Fellow in Peace and Reconciliation Studies, Trinity College Dublin. His research interests are in the area of peacebuilding, humanitarian and development cooperation, and comparative studies of peace processes. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for Peace on the Korean Peninsula at the South Korean Government Ministry of Unification, and a policy advisor for the Korean humanitarian and peace NGOs; the Korean Sharing Movement (KSM), and Okedongmu Children in Korea (OKCK).

Webinar: Alexander Statman - Ancient Wisdom and Unhistorical History: Hegel's Encounter with Chinese Philosophy

Thursday 27 January 2022, 6-7pm


At the end of the Enlightenment, European engagement with China underwent a fundamental transformation. For the philosophers of the eighteenth century, Chinese thought had been defined by what they took to be a Confucian philosophy of reason and an illustrious ancient past. But for Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, China was instead characterized by the doctrines of Daoism: what he called a “religion of magic” and a relic of "unhistorical history." How did this remarkable change take place?

In this talk, I explore the contexts and consequences of Hegel’s engagement with Chinese philosophy. He first encountered it through an essay by the ex-Jesuit missionary Joseph-Marie Amiot that had been published in 1791, then expanded his interpretation in the 1820s with the work of Europe’s first professional Sinologist, Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat. In 1827, the two scholars met in Paris to consider the question: “Has there been or has there not been philosophy in the Orient?” Their conversation reframed ancient wisdom for modern Orientalism and philosophy alike.

Alexander Statman is a historian of science and intellectual historian. He completed his PhD at Stanford University and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Huntington Library and University of Wisconsin-Madison. His book, A Global Enlightenment: Western Progress and Chinese Science, is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press.

Webinar: Gerald Roche (La Trobe University) - Language Oppression in China: What Does it Look Like?

Friday 26 November, noon-1pm

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Language oppression refers to coerced language shift that, if left unchecked, leads to the elimination of entire languages. This typically involves the eradication of minority and Indigenous languages in the context of the state’s promotion of dominant languages. In this presentation, I will discuss language oppression in the People’s Republic of China, drawing on new empirical evidence and recent theoretical developments. Empirically, I will draw on my own research with speakers of minoritized languages in the Tibetan regions of China, demonstrating how language oppression is discernible in the widespread collapse of the inter-generational transmission of languages, and shift towards the use and transmission of dominant languages. This evidence will be supported with case studies from other contexts in China, including Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Theoretically, I will draw on developments in genocide studies, to explore why it is often difficult to perceive language oppression, and to convince public audiences that language oppression is occurring. In particular, I will draw on an approach within genocide studies that historian Dirk Moses refers to as a ‘post-liberal’ approach. Post-liberal approaches have expanded the focus of genocide studies beyond a narrow emphasis on explicit intent and mass killing, to examine various forms of structural violence that lead to the destruction of groups. Drawing on these post-liberal approaches to genocide enables us to understand how language oppression often takes place in the absence of spectacular violence or explicit statements of eliminatory intent, and draws our attention towards invisible structures and slow-moving processes that can only be rendered visible through concerted analytical effort. In concluding the presentation, I will argue that undertaking this analytical work is important because language oppression often has consequences far beyond the ‘loss’ of a medium of communication or the destruction of language-based identities. These consequences include physical harm and bodily death, and demonstrate how connections between language oppression and genocide are more than theoretical.

Gerald Roche is an anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe University. His research examines the intersections of language, race and colonialism with a regional focus on Tibet and the Himalayas. He edited the Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization and his articles have appeared in American Anthropologist, Patterns of Prejudice, China Quarterly, Territory, Politics, Governance and other journals.


Webinar: James Leibold (La Trobe University) - Taming Mongolia: Xi Jinping’s Agenda for Coercive Nation Building in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region

Friday 19 November, 11am-noon


Inner Mongolia has long been considered the “model autonomous region” by Chinese Communist Party leaders. Its first Chairman Ulanhu played a crucial role in designing and implementing the Party’s “first generation” of progressive nationality policies, only to be purged during the Cultural Revolution. During the 1980s he was rehabilitated and together with his son Buhe helped to draft the 1984 Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy that re-established and strengthened these policies. Yet, over the last decade there have been calls for a “second generation” of ethnic policies that emphasis collective national belonging over ethnic peculiarities. Inner Mongolia is once again a frontier of contestation over Xi Jinping’s new agenda to “forge the collective consciousness of the Zhonghua nation/race” through more assertive and coercive nation-building policies. In this talk, Professor Leibold will provide an overview of the battle for Inner Mongolia, and the Party-state’s concerted efforts to tame and transformation the region since 2012.

James Leibold is a Professor and Head of the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra where he current leads the Xinjiang Data Project.

students looking at a blackboard with Chinese characters

Webinar: Qi Zhang (Dublin City University) - The trilingual education for ethnic minorities: field studies of the Tujia, the Uyghurs and the Inner Mongolian

Friday 12 November, noon-1pm

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The term ‘bilingual education’ is used in various official documents in the People’s Republic of China regarding language policies and practices for minority groups in China. In practice, the reality is trilingual education in this globalizing world: the minority language used in the family environment, Putonghua as the national common language, and English as the widely employed lingua franca around the world.

This study examines how three languages operate for three minority groups – the Tujia, the Uyghur, and the Inner Mongolian – based on three field studies. In comparison with eastern coastal cities in China, the regions where these minorities are found are less urbanized or less developed rural areas. The Tujia and the Mongols have been largely integrated with Han Chinese, whereas the Uyghur show a lower level of integration. Both urban-rural division and ethnolinguistic vitality are taken into account in examining the experience of trilingual education for these three ethnic minorities. The examination of the co-deployment of Putonghua, minority languages, and Englishes focuses on two aspects: medium of instruction and language attitudes. Official documents, especially the Outline of Mid- and Long-term Educational Reforms and Development Plan (2010-2020), are discussed along with local implementation and the experience of teachers and students, to provide a full picture of trilingual education for these ethnic minorities in China.

Dr Qi Zhang is an assistant professor in the School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies at Dublin City University. She has a BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Sun Yat-sen University in China, an MA in Translation from Durham University and a PhD in Linguistics from Newcastle University. Her recent research interests are primarily in the field of Chinese language education, including applied Chinese linguistics, language attitudes and pedagogy, and Chinese language study among ethnic minorities in China. She has published over twenty articles in peer reviewed journals, such as Asian Ethnicity, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, and Language Learning Journal.


Webinar: Naomi Yamada (Meiji) - Changing approaches to positive discrimination in education in China.

Friday 5 November, noon-1pm


China’s so-called “preferential” education policies are often compared to affirmative action in the United States. And like affirmative action policies, they have been subject to criticism and to changes in implementation. The policy measures include the national system of college preparatory classes for ethnic minorities, and, controversially, point provisions on the gaokao. During my ethnographic research in Qinghai province—home to Tibetans, Chinese Muslims, Han, and Mongolians—I found that these measures had long been viewed as crucial to managing ethnic-based contradictions. The Xi-Li administration has rather emphasized unification through linguistic and curricular standardization. Consequently, reductions in point provisions and elimination of categories of eligibility have affected peoples as diverse as Koreans in Jilin to Uyghurs in Xinjiang. This talk provides an overview of the preferential policy measures and of their logic—concerning both their enactment and retraction

Naomi Yamada is a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Island Studies at Meiji University in Tokyo. She is the author of Preferential Education Policies in Multi-Ethnic China: National Rhetoric, Local Realities (Routledge, 2020). She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and has lived and worked in Xining (Qinghai province, PRC).

Wenyu Du (Beihang) -- AI-enabled digital transformation and innovation in China.

20th Oct 12:00 -13:00

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Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are transforming many industries in China. More and more companies are using AI as a strategic tool to launch new products, services, and business models. This talk will cover the topic of AI-enabled digital transformation and innovation in China. It has two parts. First, the speaker will explain the landscape of the AI industry in China, which includes the market size, policies, key stakeholders, and industrial clusters. It will also include some popular use cases in the context of marketing and customer engagement. In the second part, the speaker will provide an in-depth case study on ByteDance. The case will illustrate how ByteDance builds an AI-centric infrastructure that enables it to outperform competitors and become one of the most valuable startups in the world.

Wenyu (Derek) Du is an associate professor of the Information Systems Department at the School of Economics and Management, Beihang University, Beijing, China. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Information Systems Department, National University of Singapore. His research interests include blockchain/ Fintech, digital innovation, and IT outsourcing. He uses qualitative case studies as his research methodology. His work has been published at Journal of Information Technology, Information Systems Journal, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Information & Management, International Journal of Information Management, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, and MIS Quarterly Executive.


Webinar: Lin Boqiang (Xiamen University) -- Evolution of China's Energy Policy.

Thursday 14th October, 12pm

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Abstract: The main difficulties of carbon neutralization in China includes: 1. the economy still needs substantial growth; 2. high carbon content in term of resource endowment and energy supply structure (coal about 60%); 3. high industrial energy consumption (70%); 4. consumers have low ability to pay for carbon cost; 5. slow energy pricing reforms. Environmental protection and carbon emissions reduction are important parts of China’s high-quality growth. The focus of transition is changing energy supply structure: building an energy system with clean electricity as the main sources of supply. At present, China has one of the largest and possibly most effective energy systems in the world, about 85% of which are fossil energy. In the future, wind and solar will be the main growing forces. Energy supply safety, system stability and sufficient supply are the basic principles of clean transition and also the main challenges. Carbon neutralization should be a forced mechanism for transition; energy, environment and economic growth need systematic consideration and a systematic transformation plan. Systematic transformation plan: an energy system with clean electricity as main supply and can reflecting supply costs. This requires: changing consumer behaviors, promoting industrial structure adjustments, advocating circular economy, Improving system efficiency through digitization and smart grid.

Lin Boqiang obtained his Ph.D in economics from University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a “Chang Jiang Scholar” Professor, Dean of China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy and Director for Collaborative Innovation Center for Energy Economics and Energy Policy at Xiamen University; Editor of Energy Economics journal; Vice Chairman of China Energy Society; Member of National Energy Consultation Committee under National Energy Commission; Member of National Energy Price Consultation Committee under National Development and Reform Commission; Non-executive Member of Board of Directors and Chairman of Audit Committee of China National Petroleum Corporation; and Guest Commentator for China National Radio. He is currently also a member of Board of Stewards of Future of Energy of the World Economic Forum based in Davos Switzerland.

Webinar: Linda Tsung (Sydney) - Multi-model approaches in multilingual education in China.

Friday 8 October, noon-1pm

China is one of the most multilingual countries in the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China promotes the country as a harmonious and unified nation with 56 distinct ethnic groups who speak more than 400 languages. The government has not only legally recognized multilingualism but also publicly encourages a climate in which the using and learning of a variety of languages can flourish. Adopting theories of language ecology and human capital, this talk explores multi-model approaches in multilingual education (ME) and minority language (ML) maintenance in China. In doing so, it provides insights into our understanding of national ME implementation and ML maintenance.

This paper is based on extensive empirical research and case studies in China’s multilingual regions and provinces. It examines the application of the Chinese government’s ME and ML practices over the last 30 years with its underlying language ideology and practices, revealing de factor language policies. In doing so, it analyses language management at school levels, the linguistic landscape around minority areas and the language attitudes and cultural identities held by present minority students, teachers and parents. The implementation of ME in China is under great challenge: ML maintenance is not static and its movement in one direction or another at macro or micro levels is a result of many influences that require careful consideration.

Linda Tsung is Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, The University of Sydney. Her research interests are multilingualism, multilingual education, language policy and cultural identity in Australia and Greater China. She has published widely on these topics. In particular, she has published two sole-authored books: Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Minority languages, Education and Communities in China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Dr Tsung has also co-authored a book Bilingual Education and Minority Language Maintenance in China (Springer, 2019). She has been working as a member of the multilingual education group at UNESCO. In 2019 Dr Tsung was invited by the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva to make recommendations for teaching minority languages, particularly in lesser developed countries. Her recent publication is a co-authored book entitled Language education in the school curriculum: Issues of access and equity (Bloomsbury, 2020).

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Webinar: Julia C. Schneider (Cork) - Who belongs to the Chinese nation? Inclusion and exclusion in Chinese Republican historiography.

Friday 1 October, noon-1pm

In my lecture, I analyse the formation of the theory of Chinese assimilative power in the first half of the twentieth century, bringing the intimate relation between Chinese historiography and nationalism to the fore. The cohesion between nationalist agendas and constructions of history is particularly revealed in general histories, in which non-Chinese peoples were constructed as “people without history” and at the same time integrated into the Chinese nation by means of Agamben’s “inclusive exclusion.” By studying more than a dozen general histories, I show how non-Chinese peoples were marginalised by republican Chinese historians who ultimately imagined the Chinese nation and its history as homogenous. A pattern reveals itself that explains how the assimilation theory became to be applied in historiography and why this theory has been crucial for Chinese nation-building.

Julia C. Schneider is Lecturer in Chinese history at the Department of Asian Studies at University College Cork. She holds a joint PhD in Sinology from Ghent and Göttingen Universities and an MA in Classical Sinology from Heidelberg University. From 2014 to 2019, she was Assistant Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, Göttingen University. Her book Nation and Ethnicity, published in 2017 by Brill, won the Foundation Council Award of Göttingen University. Her research interests are historiography, history of ideas, and ethnohistory in Qing and Republican times as well as Jurchen and Manchu studies. She has published in journals such as Journal of Asian History and Global Intellectual History.

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Political Implications of Ireland’s Deepening Economic Relationship with China, Wednesday 9 June 2021 at 2pm (9am EST, 9pm HKT). Co-hosted with The Wilson Center, Washington DC.

Panelists include:

Jamil Anderlini – Asia Editor, The Financial Times
Finbarr Bermingham – Europe Correspondent, South China Morning Post
Tim Mawe – Regional Director, Asia Pacific, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Yvonne Murray – Journalist, RTÉ

Economic relations between Ireland and China have expanded in recent years. Chinese investment in Ireland jumped by 56% in 2019, even as it fell in Europe as a whole. The value of Irish exports to China grew from less than $4 billion in 2016 to $11.25 billion in 2020. For Ireland, China presents an opportunity to diversify trade and investment at a critical time for Irish businesses. For China, Ireland is a gateway to the European market and, following Brexit, the only EU country other than Malta with English as an official language. As a business and tech hub, Ireland is an attractive place for Chinese firms to headquarter. While the economic benefits for Ireland of closer ties with China are obvious, the political implications are less clear. The relationship is not developing in a vacuum, but in the context of a shift in relations between Europe, the US, and China. Ireland must reckon with how it views its role in this evolving environment. Please join us for a look at the reckoning process.

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Julien Baley (Microsoft), "Networks as a tool for the study of Chinese Rhymes - Friday 16 April, 12-1pm.

This talk explores the question of how the study of rhyme can help the historical linguist’s work in sketching the phonological system of a language. Through the use of computational techniques – representing rhymes as network graphs and detecting communities of rhymes in those graphs – I take an empirical approach and harness a corpus of Chinese poetry that spans six centuries and contains a quarter of a million of poems, and highlight rhyming practices that evolved as the phonology of the Chinese language changed.

After a brief recap of the theoretical concepts (rhymes, graphs, communities), the study dives in a series of case studies designed to highlight and evaluate specific aspects of the proposed method: how it works, what are its strengths and weaknesses. In the process, I demonstrate the approach’s ability to detect and date specific instances of language change.



Anti-China Now and Then: Anti-Chinese Racism and the Liberal Tradition 1776-2021
Professor Kiri Paramore (UCC)
TCAS Lunchtime Seminar, Friday 12 March, 12-1pm.

This presentation analyses the links between anti-Chinese racism and liberal political thought. Starting in 1776, we begin with a short overview of the role of anti-Chinese sentiment in the formation and development of the liberal tradition – focusing on the central role of images of “Asian despotism” and “timeless Asia” in defining the Orientalist ideologies of nineteenth and twentieth century Western imperialism. Professor Paramore then moves on to discuss our current situation in 2021, using liberalism and anti-Chinese racism’s long interwoven history to explain the prominent return of anti-Chinese racism in our times.



A Good Year to Found a Republic: The Year of the Ox, 1949
In Association with the Dublin Chinese Lunar New Year festival
6 pm, Thursday 11 February 2021

The year 1949, when both Ireland and China established new republics, was a year of the ox, associated with strength and hard work. Projecting strength was a priority for China as it overthrew the shackles of foreign colonialism, at the same time as Ireland formally disengaged from its former colonial ruler. Building a strong economy would take time and hard work, as China launched a period of state capitalism while capitalists fled from the mainland to Hong Kong. At the same time, a programme to spread literacy and national unity through simplifying and standardising Chinese fundamentally changed the language. This special panel event from the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies explores these three facets of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Dr Isabella Jackson: "The Chinese people have stood up!" Anti-imperialism and the founding of the People's Republic
Dr Peter Hamilton: A Strong Economy for a Strong Nation: Early State Capitalism in the People's Republic
Dr Ning Jiang: New China, New Chinese language: standardising and simplifying Chinese in the new People's Republic
Professor Nathan Hill: Chair



Faculty in Focus with Dr. Peter Hamilton, 1 pm, Tuesday 9 February.

An 'in conversation' with Dr Peter Hamilton (School of Histories and Humanities) and hosted by Dr Isabella Jackson, (Trinity Centre for Asian Studies) Dr Hamilton will discuss his career and his latest publication, Made in Hong Kong: Transpacific Networks and a New History of Globalization.

About Made in Hong Kong: Transpacific Networks and a New History of Globalization
Between 1949 and 1997, Hong Kong transformed from a struggling British colonial outpost into a global financial capital. Made in Hong Kong delivers a new narrative of this metamorphosis, revealing Hong Kong both as a critical engine in the expansion and remaking of postwar global capitalism and as the linchpin of Sino-U.S. trade since the 1970s.

Peter E. Hamilton explores the role of an overlooked transnational Chinese elite who fled to Hong Kong amid war and revolution. Despite losing material possessions, these industrialists, bankers, academics, and other professionals retained crucial connections to the United States. They used these relationships to enmesh themselves and Hong Kong with the U.S. through commercial ties and higher education. By the 1960s, Hong Kong had become a manufacturing powerhouse supplying American consumers, and by the 1970s it was the world’s largest sender of foreign students to American colleges and universities. Hong Kong’s reorientation toward U.S. international leadership enabled its transplanted Chinese elites to benefit from expanding American influence in Asia and positioned them to act as shepherds to China’s reengagement with global capitalism. After China’s reforms accelerated under Deng Xiaoping, Hong Kong became a crucial node for China’s export-driven development, connecting Chinese labour with the U.S. market.

Analysing untapped archival sources from around the world, this book demonstrates why we cannot understand postwar globalization, China’s economic rise, or today’s Sino-U.S. trade relationship without centring Hong Kong.

Dr. Peter E. Hamilton is the Assistant Professor in Modern Chinese History at Trinity College Dublin. He is the author of Made in Hong Kong: Transpacific Networks and a New History of Globalization (Columbia University Press, Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, 2021). His research has been published in Twentieth-Century China, The Journal of Historical Sociology, and The International History Review and has received financial support from the Fudan Development Institute, the Schwarzman Scholars, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University, the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Hong Kong-America Centre.


TCAS Lunchtime Seminar, 12 pm, Friday 20 November. Disaster nationalism in the digital age: reimagining the (inter)national community through pandemic narratives in China. Dr Chenchen Zhang, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, the Queen’s University of Belfast.

Disasters and crises create disruptions and insecurities that potentially both threaten and reinforce the existing political order. The COVID-19 crisis in China that unfolded in the spring of 2020 represents what Edkins calls a “trauma time”, the disruptive nature of which urges the state to move quickly to “put in place as fast as possible a linear narrative of origins” (Edkins 2006: 107). This talk will examine how such linear narratives of grief, solidarity, and heroism are produced to nationalize the collective memory of trauma time and monopolize the ways in which life is grievable. On the other hand, it will also show how alternative expressions of grief, rage, and critical solidarity challenge the official script of disaster nationalism in the digital space.



TCAS Lunchtime Seminar, 12 pm, Friday 27 November. A Ticking Bomb: Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis. Dr Rahul Mishra, Senior Lecturer at the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

After decades of oppressive rule by the military junta, Myanmar (Burma) made a transition to democracy in 2015. The international community and the people of Myanmar had pinned their hopes on Aung San Suu Kyi, a noble laureate and the icon of decades-old democratic struggle in Myanmar, as the leader of a ‘New Myanmar’. With the landslide election victory of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), it was expected that she would bring nationwide peace, harmony, and economic development. However, the systemic and decades-old persecution of ethnic minorities in a Bamar-dominated Myanmar continued unabated. Termed the “world’s most persecuted minority”, Rohingya are considered illegal inhabitants in their own country by the Myanmar government, as they have been denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law. Lack of access to basic human facilities, civil and political rights, and endless persecution at the hands of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces) and the government have led to waves of exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh and neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia. It is the largest human exodus in Asia since the Vietnam War. The United Nations and the International Court of Justice have termed their persecution possible “crimes against humanity”. This talk highlights various aspects of the state-supported persecution of the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Myanmar and suggests ways in which the international community could intervene to stop the ongoing violation of human rights.

Rahul Mishra is a Senior Lecturer at the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Prior to this, he was a Consultant with the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Dr Mishra specialises on politico-security affairs of the Southeast Asian region, and major power politics in Asia. His latest publications include India’s Eastward Engagement from Antiquity to Act East Policy (Co-authored with Prof. S.D. Muni, SAGE Publications, 2019) and Asia and Europe in the 21st Century: New Anxieties, New Concerns (Co-edited with Azirah Hashim and Tony Milner, Routledge, 2020).



Our previous events are listed below.

14-18 September, 2020. The 5th AEI-ASEM Summer School 2020: “Multiculturalism in Asia and Europe”. Organised by the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Malaysia and the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

28-29, May 2020. Prof. Lorna Carson, EURASIA (European Studies Revitalised across Asian Universities) online dissemination conference.

18 February, 2020. From Roscommon to China: Emily de Burgh Daly and Irish Professional Networks in 19th Century East Asia. Dr Loughlin Sweeney, John Endicott College of International Studies in South Korea. In collaboration with the TCD International History Seminar Series.

24 February, 2020. Joint Davy Group/TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. The Nidec Corporation and Electric Vehicles. With visiting expert, Mr Yuji IWAI, Nidec Corporation, London Representative Office.

5 February, 2020. Chop Suey and Other Inventions: The History of Chinese Overseas. Dr Peter Hamilton, TCAS. Part of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival Lecture Series.  

3 February, 2020. 'A man with rat-like eyes': How Chinese speakers swear.  Dr Ning Jiang, TCAS. Part of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival Lecture Series.

28 January, 2020. A Century of Chinese Children: ‘little friends’ in a changing world. Dr Isabella Jackson, TCAS. Part of the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival Lecture Series.

25 November, 2019. Joint Davy/TCAS Public Evening Lecture. Will EVs be an ultimate answer to CO2 footprint reductions? With visiting expert, Mr Noboru Uchiyama, General Manager, Investor Relations Europe, Panasonic Corporation.

10 October, 2019. Book launch of The Irish and China by Jerusha McCormack (ed.), hosted by New Island Press and the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies

7 October, 2019. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar Onsen in Japan: An adventurous way of exploring the country!  With special guest speaker Ms Noriko Seino, Junior Landlady (Waka Okami) Seikokan.

29 June, 2019. Motivation and emotions in language learning. Professor Keita Kikuchi, Kanagawa University, Japan. Part of the XCELING ‘Innovation in Applied Linguistics’ Series.

25 June, 2019. Ireland-Indonesia Relations. Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Ireland, Dr Rizal Sukma.

27 May, 2019. The Asian Economy and the World's Financial Markets. Mr Satoshi Okagawa, SMBC Senior Global Markets Analyst (London)

24 May, 2019. Career Reflections: International cooperation for environment risk governance and management. Ms Ria Sen, United Nations World Food Programme, Rome.

4 April, 2019. Dynamics of Occupy Protests: Lessons from Taiwan's Sunflower Movement and Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement. Ming-sho Ho, Professor of Sociology, National Taiwan University.

25 February 2019. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. "'You have become my heaven and my mariner': Fr. Angelo Zottoli SJ (1826-1902) and his mission in Shanghai". With Antonio de Caro, Hong Kong Baptist University/Trinity College Dublin.

19 February 2019. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. Cultural and Technological Experiences from a Taiwanese Perspective. Guest speaker: Dr Pierre Tzu-pao Yang, Taipei Representative Office in Ireland. Dr Yang will give a presentation on the Taiwanese experience of using technology to promote culture, including how technology can play a positive role in a ‘new renaissance of the twenty-first century’ and whether the Taiwanese experience suggests a new means of facilitating dialogue between technology and culture.

15 February 2019. Film Screening "The Edge of Night" 街頭 and Q&A with Director Chiang Wei-Hua. Chiang Wei-Hua is a Taiwanese independent filmmaker. His documentaries focus on Taiwanese youth cultures. The “Edge of Night” 街頭 (2018) was the selected competition film for the 2018 Taipei Film Festival and awarded for the Top Prize at South Taiwan Film Festival. With Dr Malte Kaeding (University of Surrey). Supported by the Taipei Representative Office in Ireland.

14 February 2019. TCAS Public Evening Lecture in association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival. 100 Years of Chinese Anti-Imperialism: The May Fourth Movement of 1919. In 1919, Chinese students organised a major protest movement, beginning on 4 May, to oppose the government's perceived acquiescence to the Treaty of Versailles. The protest swelled to include tens of thousands of people across China and became the most important political and cultural flowering of the period. Dr Isabella Jackson will explain the events and significance of this turning point in Chinese history.

11 February 2019. TCAS Public Evening Lecture in association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival. An Introduction to the Chinese Writing System. The Chinese language is well-known worldwide due to its long history and unique writing system. Whilst many of the world’s languages are written in alphabets or syllabaries, the ideograms of the Chinese writing system convey not only pronunciation but ideas and concepts in the form of picture symbols. Ning Jiang explores the evolution, development and transformation of the Chinese writing system, including contemporary developments in the digital era.

5 February 2019. TCAS Public Evening Lecture in association with the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival. Fifty Shades of Humour in China. Humour is an indispensable component of our life which provides a cognitive shortcut in our understanding of social and political issues, as well as how we perceive ‘the Other’. As polarisation sweeps both democratic and authoritarian regimes, this lecture examines how humour plays a part in our participation in political life. Dr Wang-Kaeding will look at the case of China and map out different types of humour which reflect and even condition state-society dynamics. The audience will see examples ranging from state-sponsored skits in the Chinese Spring Festival Gala to memes created by netizens, and will be invited share their opinions on examples to help come up with a working definition of ‘political humour’.

30 January 2019. In association with the International History Seminar Series. The Italian-Chinese Silk Market, 1850-1915. With Dr Aglaia De Angeli (QUB). Dr De Angeli is a sinologist who specialises in social and law history of Republican China. Part of the Sir Robert Hart Project at Queen’s, her work includes historical photography and Sino-Western relationships, especially between China and Italy, France and Ireland, on law, diplomats, silk and missionaries.

19 November 2018. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. Turbulence in the world trade regime and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership. Professor Kimura, Keio University & Chief Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Jakarta, Indonesia. Slides available here. This seminar is also available as a podcast. In association with the Embassy of Japan in Ireland.

12 November 2018. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. East Asia and Future of World Trade: An Assessment of the Trump and Brexit Impacts. Dr Christopher Dent, Senior Lecturer in Economics and Business at Edge Hill University. Slides available here. This seminar is also available as a podcast.

11 September, 2018. TCAS Lunchtime Seminar. Watering down Hong Kong. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Claudia Mo is an independent, pro-democracy legislator and a journalist by training in the city. She is a founder of the HK First group. 


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