International Workshop: Kneeling Women, Blinded Slaves International Workshop

Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
12-13th Jul 2019

Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Character Interpretation and the Historical Semantics of Chinese Terms of Dependency

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”.

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