China in the 17th Century: Trauma, Transition and Global Transformations

An International Workshop to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the journal Ming Qing Yanjiu
20-21st Oct 2021

This will be an online workshop hosted by the University of Naples “L’Orientale”. Should the global situation allow it, it will be held as a hybrid event.

Organized by : Prof. Donatella Guida, Dr. Federico Brusadelli
Keynote Lecture : Prof. Timothy Brook (University of British Columbia)
Deadline for Abstract Proposals: April 25th, 2021
Notification of Acceptance: May 25th, 2021

Within the “global crisis” of the 17 th century (Parker 2013), that put under severe pressure political and social orders across Eurasia, China possibly experienced the most traumatic rupture, as the Manchu “barbarians” took possession of the Empire. The Ming dynasty, founded in 1368, came to an end in 1644, as the armies of the Qing dynasty entered the Imperial Palace in Beijing.

The complete subjugation of China’s heartland proved to be not an easy task for the new emperors. The resilience of Ming loyalists, the rebellion of allied generals, the diffidence of the bureaucratic élite, the pressure of Russians and Mongols: the “pacification” required four decades – and more than one bloodshed – to be completed. The seventeenth century can therefore be considered as “one of the most trying periods in Chinese history”, if not a “cataclysm” (Struve 1993).

This political transition, culminating with the creation of an immense multi-ethnic Empire, intertwined the much longer social and cultural transition that had been transforming China from the mid-16 th century. The emergence of new social classes – merchants, urban elites, independent literati – and the contact with Western traders and missionaries in the “South China Sea world-economy” (Brook 2010) – contributed to the irremediable alteration of the tightly structured society engineered by the founder of the Ming. In those decades of economic growth and political decline, of philosophical crisis and political violence, “the intellectual class initiated a comprehensive rethinking of traditional society” (Wang Jinmin, 2006).

This workshop, by which the University of Naples L’Orientale intends to celebrate (in cooperation with Brill) the 25 th anniversary of the journal Ming Qing Yanjiu (, wishes to explore this turbulent Chinese century in its many aspects: political, intellectual, diplomatic, economic, artistic, cultural, environmental, social, with a special attention to global entanglements, transfers/circulations, and comparative perspectives. The event will consist of keynotes, panels, and roundtables, while also favoring (albeit “virtually”) informal discussions and networking.

Presenters will be encouraged to submit their papers to a special issue of Ming Qing Yanjiu to be published in 2022.

Please submit your proposal (max 300 words) by sending an email to by 4pm CET, April 25, 2021 . In case of panel proposals, they should consist of a general abstract of max 300 words followed by individual abstracts. Please include the following information in your submission: name, title/position, email address and institutional affiliation.

Download this announcement as PDF: Workshop_17thCenturyChina_flyer-1