Special lecture at Chulalongkorn University

Is China really the “Middle Kingdom”?

Poster of the special Lecture by Anne CHENGThe Institute of Asian Studies,
The Institute of Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia
and Chula Global Network present

A special lecture at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
Is China really the “Middle Kingdom”?
Professor at Collège de France, Chair in Intellectual History of China


Discussants :
- Wasana WONGSURAWAT (Department of History, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University)
- Professor Emeritus Surichai WUN'GAEO (Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University)


February 18th 2019
Time 10 -12am (registration 9 am)
Venue : Saranitet Conference Room, 2nd floor, Main Auditorium, Chulalongkorn University


The notion of China as the “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo 中國) comes from the fact that Chinese universality is inseparable from a certain idea of civilization, with a centre shining upon surrounding regions. The geographical embodiment of this radiating influence is what is commonly called the sinicized world, which includes the entire East Asian region surrounding China itself: Korea, Japan, Vietnam – all cultures which have been influenced by China to different extents and at different moments in history. Conversely, each time China itself was encroached upon or invaded by “outsiders”, it was always assumed that the latter would end up being transformed and adopting Chinese civilization. Imperial China thus depicted itself not only as the centre of the world but also as a sort of “civilization-world”, and it was not until the second half of the 19th century, under attack from Western powers, that it was constrained to consider itself as just one nation amongst others. It is the same universality of “China as a world” which, after having been jeopardized by colonial powers (including Japan) at the end of the 19th century, is today once again becoming a type of nostalgic self-representation and a unifying factor in the revival of the ancient notion of “All under Heaven” , an ideological construction which needs to be re-examined in a critical light.


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Affiche de la conférence  d'Anne CHENG   Anne CHENG avec Suthipan et Claire TRAN   Conférence d'Anne CHENG

Anne CHENG avec Lou EVE   Anne CHENG avec les discutants   Anne CHENG et Claire TRAN

Conférence d'Anne CHENG   Anne CHENG avec Suthipan, Claire TRAN et Frédéric MANSIER