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International Workshop: Kneeling Women, Blinded Slaves

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Character Interpretation and the Historical Semantics of Chinese Terms of Dependency

Event details
  • Workshop
When Jul 12, 2019 10:00 to
Jul 13, 2019 05:00
Where Ruhr University Bochum
Contact Name Tobias Wilke
Contact Email
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Semantic analysis based on character interpretation once formed an indispensable part of traditional Chinese lexicography and has led to many fanciful claims and speculations. Thus, the character for the word nü, “woman”, , has been argued to depict a kneeling woman, a posture that reflects women’s generally inferior position in pre-modern Chinese society. Or Guo Moruo (1892–1978) once came to the conclusion that the term min , “people”, must originally have designated slaves who had been punished by having had one of their eyes gouged out.

Several leading international experts in the field of Chinese paleography and historical semantics have been invited to address the question of correlations between semantic value and orthographical form of Chinese characters with regard to the semantic field of asymmetrical dependency in Classical Chinese. The workshop will provide valuable insights into the traditional Chinese social construction of reality and help to deconstruct existing concepts and narratives of “freedom” and “slavery”.


All welcome. Please contact Tobias Wilke, [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.], by 1 July 2019 to register.


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