H – Knowledge production

Dissemination, transformation, and perception of (western) science in a global perspective

Event Details

  • Date

    Thursday, 25 June - 15:30 – 17:30

  • Venue
  • Theme
    H – Knowledge production
  • Kiel Ramos Suarez (Linnaeus University, Växjö)
  • Malin Sonja Wilckens (Bielefeld University)
  • Jean-Yves Heurtebise (Fujen Catholic University)
  • Qingmei Xue (Nanjing University)
  • Luca Zan (University of Bologna)


  • Kiel Ramos Suarez
    The Making of the Filipino “Homosexual”: Science, Homosexuality, and Empire in the Philippines under Colonial Rule (1890s–1941)

    The Making of the Filipino “Homosexual”: Science, Homosexuality, and Empire in the Philippines under Colonial Rule (1890s–1941)

    Western medicine, one of the salient legacies of Spanish and U.S. colonialisms in the Philippines, permeates Filipino society in many ways. Historians have shown that the period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is crucial in facilitating the diffusion and transfer of scientific knowledge within the colonial system. This doctoral project aims to examine different forms of colonial scientific travel and exchange in the Philippines in relation to medical discourses on (homo)sexuality. Set against the background of "colonial medicalization," a historical process beginning in the early 20th century that subjected native bodies under colonial medical inspection, this study, firstly, aims to analyze the history of how "homosexuality" became discursively constructed as a disease or disorder in the U.S. colonial Philippines. Secondly, through rigorous research in selected colonial archival centers and through careful analysis of historical scholarship on medicine, colonial and postcolonial studies, as well as gender and sexuality studies (LGBTQ studies), this study seeks to broaden our understanding of how colonial science and medicine impacted discourses on male and female homosexualities not only in the Philippines, but also in imperial centers of Europe and the United States. Lastly, this project, more broadly, aims to critique the “center-periphery diffusionist model” of colonial scientific mobility, as it seeks to highlight the internal dynamics of Filipino colonial society and its relation to Filipino anti-colonial resistance and agency.
  • Malin Sonja Wilckens
    Entanglement and Hierarchization: Worldwide Skull Transport through European Comparative Anatomy

    Entanglement and Hierarchization: Worldwide Skull Transport through European Comparative Anatomy

    The simultaneity of inclusion and exclusion is obvious within anthropological practices in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Skulls from all over the world were collected and translated into a European order of knowledge. The goal: the order of humanity. The whole world was integrated in its geographical scope and at the same time people were excluded in their cultural value through marginalization practices. Both asymmetrical colonial collecting practices and asymmetrical European knowledge practices led to a connection of the continents with simultaneous hierarchization. The world was connected and compared by European and North American researchers to justify their own allegedly ‘higher’ place in the world. Questions remain: How did the cultures and skulls, which were foreign from a Eurocentric perspective, affect European knowledge formation? Who was involved in the collection project and what were the implications of the comparative practices for the non-European world?
  • Jean-Yves Heurtebise
    Racial Anthropology in East & West: Kant's & Hegel's Orientalist perception of China and Liang Qichao’s Occidentalist perception of the West

    Racial Anthropology in East & West: Kant's & Hegel's Orientalist perception of China and Liang Qichao’s Occidentalist perception of the West

    The influence of German idealist thinkers such as Kant & Hegel on contemporary Chinese philosophers such as Mou Zongsan or Li Zehou is a well-known and documented fact. However recent scholarship on both Kant’s and Hegel's anthropology disclosed a darker side of Kant’s and Hgel's legacy (Bernasconi, Larrimore, Park, etc.) whose potential influence on the East and China has not been yet documented. Here, following the steps of Dikötter’s 1992 The Discourse of Race in Modern China, Keevak’s 2011 Becoming Yellow and K. Carrico’s 2017 Race, Nationalism and Tradition in China Today, we would like to investigate to what extent the racial anthropology of Chinese (early) contemporary thinking, especially in Liang Qichao’s writings, can be seen as an (indirect) echo of the influence of Kant’s anthropological works. In the first part, we will propose a working definition of both Orientalism and Occidentalism with reference to the works of Said, Vukovich, Buruma & Margalit, and Chen Xiaomei. For Said, the Orient denotes principally the Arabic World and Orientalism means the Western prejudices about the Arabic world. But the application of Said’s concept of Orientalism to China should take into account the fact that, if Near East Orientalism was mainly depreciative (though not completely – as critics of Said have pointed out), positive Orientalism, i.e. Western idealization of China, from Marco Polo’s Book of the Marvels of the World to Voltaire’s Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of Nations to Macciocchi Dalla’s Cina: dopo la rivoluzione culturale, has been as strong (perhaps stronger) than negative Orientalism in European scholars’ accounts of China. In the second part, we will expose the problems of Kant’s anthropology. Kant divides humanity into different races according to their skin-color. Kant’s racialist conception of anthropology is explicit when he affirms that only the “white race” has the capacity to develop fully the potentialities of human nature and when he affirms that native Americans and Africans, since they did not have in them the capacity to think and act “freely”, could be enslaved (”Amerikaner und Neger können sich nicht selbst regieren. Dienen also nur zu Schlaven”). Finally, Kant expressed the opinion that the Chinese were ruled by fantasy, deprived of scientific rationality, trapped in ritual repetition, and incapable of freedom. Though the notion of Race is not so much used by Hegel, Hegel's historical Eurocentricism is also rooted on a geographical determinism visible in his own Anthropology. In the third part, we will analyze the nature of the (historical and conceptual) relations between “German Orientalism” and “Chinese Occidentalism”. The thinking of Liang Qichao 梁啟超 illustrates all these aspects of Chinese Occidentalism influenced by Orientalist racial anthropology. Liang Qichao contends that there exist five primitive races: red, black, brown, yellow and white and that among these five races, only the white and yellow races have an impact on history (the red, brown and black being, by opposition “an-historical”): 「要之,缘附于此抟抟员舆上之千五百兆⽣灵,其可以称为历史的⼈种者,不过黄、⽩两族⽽已」.
  • Luca Zan
    Oral history perspectives on Chinese accounting change

    Oral history perspectives on Chinese accounting change

    While oral history still has a marginal role in accounting literature in general, it has not been applied at all in relation to the history of Chinese accounting. This study uses oral history to understand accounting change in China. We interviewed 21 retired accountants, ageing from 65 to 92 at the time of the interview, asking them to share their professional experience in open and unstructured interviews. Their narratives provide additional context for the issues, debates and controversies already addressed by more traditional (i.e. non oral) research on accounting change in China. In addition, they highlight an overlooked element in the literature: the role of accountants, their points of view and experience as professionals. Moreover, their stories also address broader aspects of the epochal process of social change in China, with insights into topics that are still taboo – and the object of censorship – starting from the Cultural Revolution in general, and accounting in that period in particular.


Abstract will follow shortly