One Asia Forum Talk Series: “Traveling Civilization: The Sinographic Translational Network and Modern Lexicon Building in Colonial Vietnam, 1890s-1910s”

Speaker: Dr. Yufen Chang (The National Science Council of Taiwan)
* Open to the public. All are welcome.

The Sinographic Translational Network and Modern Lexicon

Investigating how regional connectivity operating between West and non-West, this talk transcends both the colonial dichotomy between the powerful West and the victimized non-West and the postcolonial one between the pretentious West and the local agency. It demonstrates how the idea of civilization and some of its affiliated words that pertain to modernity traveled to colonial Vietnam via the Sinographic translational network. Emerging in the late nineteenth century out of the collapsing Sino-centric tribute-trade system, this network connected colonial Vietnam to both China directly and Japan indirectly. This study compares some earliest modern dictionaries of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese languages, and shows that, first, though considered essential to French identity and French imperial policy, the idea of civilization traveled not from France but from Japan via China to colonial Vietnam.

Dr Yufen ChangAbout the speaker: Dr. Yufen Chang has joined NSC as Visiting Fellow. She received her PhD in sociology from University of Michigan in May 2013. She spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Asia Research Institute before assuming the position of Visiting Fellow with the NSC at ISEAS. Her dissertation deals with how the mechanisms of emulation, differentiation, and hybridization shaped the formative process of the vernacular literature in colonial Vietnam. While at ISEAS, she works on a project about pre-colonial Sino-Vietnamese translation. Her research interests include colonial Vietnamese nationalism, China-Southeast Asian cultural interconnections, translation, and Chinese-ness.