Carla Nappi, "Notes toward a History of Sameness: Manchu Words, Qing Bodies, Translated Objects"


Monday, February 25, 2013, 4:00pm

Location: CGIS South, Doris and Ted Lee Gathering Room (S030), 1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University

Notes toward a History of Sameness: Manchu Words, Qing Bodies, Translated Objects
Carla Nappi,
University of British Columbia
The Manchu language was used in the eighteenth century as a medium of exchange and control of information about the human body and its transformations. In texts about anatomy, disease, and materia medica, translators changed both the understanding of bodies at court and the Manchu language as a result of their practices. The texts emerging out of this context help us rethink how the notions of “China,” “Chinese,” “science,” and “medicine” are entangled in a history of Qing bodies. Focusing on the case of Manchu drug literature, Carla Nappi will explore these themes and consider the ways that the objects emerging out of Manchu translation can contribute to a broader history of sameness and identification across early modern Eurasia.

Carla Nappi is the Canada Research Chair of Early Modern Studies and an assistant professor of history at the University of British Columbia. In 2012-13 she is the Hurford Family Fellow of the National Humanities Center. She works in the history of China, its science and medicine, and its early modern translation. Her first book, The Monkey and the Inkpot: Natural History and its Transformations in Early Modern China (2009), analyzed the construction of evidence, proof, and belief in the Bencao gangmu (1596) and related texts. Her current work explores the history of translations among words, things, and bodies, paying special attention to epistemic and textual architecture and the objects that emerge from it.

Cosponsored with
the Mahindra Humanities Center and the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University