Contemporary Interpretations of the Manchu Conquest: Writing about China in the Seventeenth Century

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Contemporary Interpretations of the Manchu Conquest: Writing about China in the Seventeenth Century
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Authors:
Ilsoo Cho, Hebrew University, Israel (organizer, presenter)
Weiguo Sun, Nankai University, China (chair, presenter)
Yuval Givon, Tel Aviv University, Israel (presenter)
Ye Yuan, Columbia University, United States (presenter)

Abstract:

The fall of the Ming empire in 1644 and its replacement by a once small group of tribal peoples from what is now China’s northeast generated enormous discussions regarding the Ming-Qing transition’s world-historical significance. Focusing on the decades following the Qing takeover of the Chinese capital in 1644, this panel examines the different ways the seventeenth-century contemporaries, inside and outside of China, have interpreted the Ming-Qing transition. Based on multinational and multilingual research of source materials produced by writers from near and far—Jesuits making observations on the country through their China operation, Korean officials writing about the circumstances surrounding the fall of Ming and the consequences of “barbarian” takeover of China proper, and the Chinese literati who had to make sense of the military conquest and alien occupation—this panel aims to explore how contemporaries interpreted the Ming-Qing transition. The panel will ask the following themes and questions: How did the different observers understand the circumstances surrounding the Ming empire’s decline and the Qing conquest of China? How did their views differ? What significance did the Ming-Qing transition have upon the writers’ own societies? Our primary purpose in this panel is to consider these questions in a comparative perspective, to generate new ground for understanding seventeenth-century East Asia, and the world.