Recent changes in the United States and around the world, together with Japan’s decision to make its traditional ethics a formal school subject beginning in 2018 reconfirm the need of ethics, the universality of ethical values, and locality of ethical practices in specific socio-cultural and political contexts. This talk presents a preliminary survey of how ethics as a branch of knowledge from the West was introduced to Japan and became part of the nation-building process of the country in late 19th century with the blooming of ethics textbooks. It also examines what made the transnational/transcultural journey of one of those textbooks possible through the case of Chūgaku rinrisho and its transformations in China and Vietnam.
About the speaker: NGUYEN Nam is a lecturer of Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City (since 1986), and Loyola University Chicago’s Vietnam Center. Having earned his MA (Regional Studies – East Asia) and PhD (East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Chinese Literature) from Harvard, he worked as the manager of the Academic Program of the Harvard-Yenching Institute (HYI) from 2004 to 2010. His research interests focus on Sinology (especially Confucianism), comparative literature (dealing mainly with East Asia), translation studies, and adaptation studies. He is also an associate of the HYI.