History of the Relations Between
the Low Countries & China
in the Qing Era (1644-1911)

Edited By W.F. Vande Walle
November 2003
Leuven University Press
ISBN: 90-5867-315-4
508 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$95.00 Paper Original


The genesis of the present volume was a conference of the same title, which was organized by the Ferdinand Verbiest Foundation in Leuven in September 1995. Participants included scholars from several European countries, North America, China and Australia. Interpreting the topic broadly and drawing on a wide range of both Chinese and Western sources, their presentations explored the relationship between China and the Low Countries from a variety of angles, paying ample attention to the broader European context of the issues they dealt with. This book then includes twenty-one of the contributions in revised version, reflecting diverse backgrounds and varying views on points of common concern. They have been arranged along a chronological axis into five sections.

The first two sections roughly coincide with the time of what is often called the old (Jesuit) Mission in China (usually dated from 1583 till the early nineteenth century), and contain a number of essays on the achievements of Jesuits from the Southern (Spanish) Netherlands, notably Ferdinand Verbiest and Antoine Thomas. The third section focuses on the connections between China and the Northern Netherlands from the Seventeenth to early Twentieth century. The fourth and fifth sections deal with several aspects of the relationship between Belgium (1830) and ends with the demise of dynastic rule in China (1911). Although the history of the missionary enterprise in China figures prominently in many of the essays, the overall prospect of this collection is far broader, while by the same token it cannot claim to have exhausted the whole gamut of pertinent topics.

Many of these essays deal with the problems of cultural contact and exchange, of acculturation and enculturation, the transmission of scientific knowledge, the spread of cultural products, or the shaping of images and concepts about China, paying special attention to the role played in this process by individuals and institutions from the low countries. Other contributions focus on the arduous itinerary of particular missionary congregations active in China. Yet others assess the significance of the diplomatic, political, economic and commercial relations between China and Belgium. All address directly or indirectly fundamental questions concerning the image of China the West in general and the Low Countries in particular constructed for themselves during the period under review, and the dynamics that were at work in the various enterprises the Low Countries were involved in with regard to China.


History

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