The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Message from Department Chairman

I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all new students in the History Department. During the normative study period, hopefully you will develop a keen sense of history and critical thinking.

As a history student, you are expected to have a holistic approach in problem solving. Professor YU Ying Shih discussed the meaning of “generalization” in historical studies. He advocated that historical knowledge could provide generalization on historical trends, sharpen our understanding on the dynamics and structures of historical development, causes and effects in history (Yu Ying-shih, “My Reflections on the Study of Chinese History”, in E-Newsletter for Research in Chinese Studies, 34:1, p.4. It is essential of you to observe various subjects with a broad perspective.

Many people wonder about the value of history. Wei Zheng 魏徵, an official of the Tang Dynasty (618–907), believed that history was the model guide for emperors to follow the ruling experience from predecessors. Sima Guang’s 資治通鑒 Zizhi Tongjian affirmed that history “offers indispensable practical political and moral lessons for posterity”, “past precedents were unerring guides to present actions, both political and moral.” (On-cho Ng and Q. Edward Wang, Mirroring the Past: The Writing and Use of History in Imperial China, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005 p.169-170). Hence, I would say historical knowledge inspires individuals to think smarter, helps to make wiser public choice, and enlightens politicians to make long-term and sensible advice for the society.

Our curriculum aims at integrating Eastern and Western learning with thorough understanding of the historical development and the changes from the past to the present. Therefore, a comprehensive programme on Chinese history, world history, comparative and public history is designed. It will be constantly updated to keep abreast of academic development trends and social needs.

This year a sophisticated professor joins in our Department. He is Professor Stuart M. MCMANUS, who received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. Professor MCMANUS focuses his research in pre-modern Hispanic culture from a global and multi-ethnic perspective. He will teach courses on Pre-Modern World History: The West and the World I, The West and the World III and Historiography. I encourage you to take this opportunity to learn more about western scholarships from Professor MCMANUS.

Professor LAI Ming Chiu
Chairman, Department of History


Welcome back!

Hope you all had a wonderful summer and wish you a successful academic year ahead!

Our warmest welcome to our new teaching member and all new students of the Department of History!


Congratulations to Prof. HE Xi for securing a grant from the from the RGC General Research Fund 2018–19 for her research on The Ping-Liu-Li Uprising in 1906: An Interpretation Based on an Understanding of Local Society.


Congratulations to Prof. LAI Ming Chiu for securing a grant from the RGC General Research Fund 2018–19 for his research on The Linxiang Prefecture and the Changsha Commandery in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD): The Governance of a Han Local Administration as Seen from the Archives Excavated in the Wuyi Square of Changsha, Hunan.


Congratulations to Prof. LAM Weng Cheong for securing a grant from the RGC General Research Fund 2018–19 for his research on Market System at the Conjunction of the Imperial Interregional Network: An Archaeological Study of Metal Objects in the Jingnan Region of the Han Empire.


Congratulations to Prof. TANG Chung for securing a grant from the RGC General Research Fund 2018–19 for his research on Turquoise Technology and Resource Procurement in China: From the Early Neolithic Jiahu to the Bronze Age Erlitou.


Congratulations to the Recipient of Postgraduate Research Output Award 2017

Our PhD Year 3 student, Ms. LI Zigui was awarded the Postgraduate Research Output Award 2017.

Established since 2002, the Postgraduate Research Output Award is nominated annually by each Faculty to recognise research postgraduate students with commendable research achievements during their studies. The award will be presented to Ms. LI at the 85th Congregation for the Conferment of Degrees, scheduled to be held on 15 November 2018.


Students who wish to change their 2018–19 First Term course enrolments are reminded to do so via the CUSIS during the following specified add/drop periods:

Undergraduate programme: Between 8:30pm on 10 September 2018 and 8:30pm on 16 September 2018

Postgraduate programmes: Between 10am on 3 September 2018 and 5:30pm on 17 September 2018


New Book Release by Prof. Ian MORLEY


Cities and Nationhood: American Imperialism and Urban Design in the Philippines, 1898–1916




University of Hawaii Press

Year of Publication:

June 2018


New Book Release by Prof. HO Pui Yin


(Three-Trade Unions and Workers in Hong Kong)


HO Pui Yin


Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited

Year of Publication:

June 2018



We extend our welcome to Prof. Stuart MCMANUS, who joined the Department of History as Assistant Professor on 1 August 2018.

Prof. Stuart MCMANUS received his PhD degree in History from Harvard University. Before joining the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he was the inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge of University of Chicago and a scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library. Prof. MCMANUS will teach HIST4304 Topic Studies in Pre-Modern World History: The West and the World I in Term 1; HIST 2002B Historiography (Advanced) and HIST 4306 Topic Studies in World History: The West and the World III in Term 2.


Prof. CHOI Chi Cheung has been reappointed as Professor (Teaching) with effect from 1 August 2018.


Prof. CHIU Peng-sheng left the Department on 16 July 2018. The Department would like to extend its appreciation to Prof. CHIU for his contributions to the Department.


Ms. Janet TANG left the Department on 20 August 2018. The Department would like to extend its appreciation to Ms. TANG for her contributions to the Department.


Academic Activities

Recapping the “Lecture Series on Historical Anthropology” Delivered by Prof. ZHANG Peiguo of Shanghai University on 18 April & 19 April 2018

Prof. ZHANG Peiguo of the School of Sociology and Political Science, Shanghai University, was invited by the Centre for Chinese History, Department of History, to present three lectures to faculty members and students.

The second lecture, entitled “The Double Domination of Gentry Power in Qing China” was held on 18 April 2018. In this lecture, Prof. ZHANG reviewed the studies of Chinese gentry by FEI Xiaotong, etc. From the perspective of Weberian theory of domination, he argued that the power of Chinese gentry could be understood as the combination of patrimonial and Charismatic domination. The third lecture, entitled “Welfare as Labor Service or as Part of the Tributary State? The Case of Jiading in the Qing Dynasty”, was successfully concluded on 19 April 2018. This lecture studied the gentry-run welfare activities in late Qing Jiading. Prof. ZHANG argued that instead of regarding these welfare activities as “labor service” of gentry, it would make a better theoretical sense to view them as part of the power of tributary state.


Recapping the Workshop on “Studies of Bamboo and Wooden Manuscripts in Eastern Han Period from the Wuyi Square in Changsha” on 27 April 2018

The Workshop on “Studies of Bamboo and Wooden Manuscripts in Eastern Han Period from the Wuyi Square in Changsha” initiated by The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)-Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) Joint Research Collaboration Fund, was held on 27 April 2018. The workshop was organised to explore the studies of bamboo and wooden manuscripts in Eastern Han Period and gathered scholars from Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to exchange views.


Recapping the “Staff-Student Consultative Committee Meeting” held on 4 May 2018

Prof. LAI Ming Chiu, Department Chairman, and Prof. POO Mu-chou, Division Head conducted the Staff-Student Consultative Committee Meeting on 4 May 2018. The Committee is composed of faculty members as well as undergraduate and postgraduate student representatives. The Committee is a bridge to strengthen two-way communication between the Department and students.


Recapping the Academic Seminars Delivered by Prof. CHEN Xinyu of Tsinghua University on 7 May & 9 May 2018

Prof. CHEN Xinyu of the School of Law, Tsinghua University, was invited by the Centre for Chinese History, Department of History; and the Office of Academic Links (China), to present two lectures to faculty members and students.

The first lecture, entitled “沈家本與中國法的近代化” was held on 7 May 2018. As the Secretary of Enactment, who was in charge of the revision of the Qing Code and the modernisation of the legal system during the last few years of Qing Dynasty, Shen Jiaben has drawn academic attention in the legal history of modern China. Prof. CHEN Xinyu’s seminar started with an overview of Shen Jiaben’s biography; he then focused on Shen’s own understanding of the rule of law, his participation of the legal reform, and the legacy he left for the legal modernisation in China. Holding the belief that the rule of law was a way to save the country, Shen Jiaben was rigorous and open-minded towards learning foreign and modern legal theories. He also acted as a generous and devoted supporter for training the next generation of legal personnel. Prof. CHEN suggested that a comprehensive study of Shen Jiaben could provide a deeper understanding of legal theories and institutions of traditional Chinese law as well as a sharp reassessment of the legal transformation of modern China from the perspective of macro-history and comparative law, which also would be beneficial for the development of contemporary legal system in China.

The second lecture, entitled “晚清修律中的禮法之爭”, was successfully concluded on 9 May 2018. Prof. CHEN Xinyu presented a lecture on the two debates of Ritual and Law in Chinese legal history, the compilation of the New Penal Law of Qing Dynasty, the comparison between Ritual and Law Faction as well as the consequence of the debate. He indicated that the compilation of the New Criminal Law of the Great Qing was the focus of the debate between the two factions. After that, the implementation of《附則》五條 and《暫行章程》五條 were the compromise of both sides. Based on this, Prof. CHEN analysed the origin and difference of the two factions in the late Qing. He pointed out that the inner formation of these two factions was quite complicated and the change in the attitude of the Law Factions to the ritual should be emphasised. Meanwhile, the debate also presented the complexity of the debate between previous Chinese law and foreign law, Japanese Law and German Law, as well as the East and the West.


Recapping the “重構早期嶺南——近年重大考古發現與跨學科研究工作坊” held on 18-19 May 2018

The workshop was co-organised by the Faculty of Arts, the Department of History and the Department of Anthropology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Fifteen scholars from the USA, Mainland China and Hong Kong were invited to present papers or give comments on the topics discussed during the workshop. Prof. LAI Ming Chiu, Chairman of Department of History, delivered an opening speech to welcome the participants. Prof. Lai stressed the importance of excavation results in conducting early historical research on Lingnan.

The first workshop focused on introducing recent archaeological findings, navigating ethnicity and civilisation in early Lingnan, and examining material culture in the region from social and technological perspectives from the late Neolithic Period to Han Dynasty. On the second day, the Hong Kong Archaeological Society was invited to share its experiences on conversation and public archaeology.


Recapping the International Conference of “Confronting Predicament: The Mentality and Patterns of Behavior of Chinese Intellectuals in the Second Millennium” held on 25–26 May 2018

More than 20 scholars from the UK, USA, Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, Taiwan and Hong Kong were invited to present papers or act as moderators in the two-day conference. Prof. LAI Ming Chiu, Department Chairman, gave a welcome address. The conference was jointly organised by the Department of History, the Chinese University of Hong Kong; the Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist University; and the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Webster University.

The conference attempted to provide historians, social scientists, and researchers of other fields a chance to share findings on the cutting-edge theme of the history of Chinese intellectuals. The conference was satisfactorily concluded.


Recapping the Academic Seminar “History, Memory, and Nationalism in Post-89 China” Delivered by Prof. Rowena HE on 31 May 2018

Prof. Rowena HE of St. Michael’s College, was invited by the Department to present a lecture to faculty members and students.

Prof. HE addressed the relationship between the highly contested memory of a watershed event in contemporary Chinese history – the 1989 Tiananmen Movement, and the roots and development of contemporary student nationalism. The talk explored how Chinese society had been influenced by a collective memory — be it truthful, selective, or manipulated — of the nation’s most immediate past, and what young people needed educationally and politically to be informed and responsible citizens.


Recapping the Academic Seminar “Violence as a Necessary Evil? — Towards an Understanding of Early Imperial China” Delivered by Dr. Wicky TSE on 31 May 2018

Dr. Wicky TSE of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, was invited by the Department to present a lecture to faculty members and students.

Dr. TSE began his talk with the Later Han embroidery depicting the conversation scene of an imperial official and a barbarian leader, as well as a rubbing of Han stone engraving portraying the everyday life of the barrack. He then discussed during the period of 1st century to 6th century AD on how early Imperial China understood “violence”, or particularly “warfare” and practised them as governing tactics, and how culture and identities of groups living in frontier societies interacted with the process of militarisation of the early empires. He pointed out that in the pursuit of the effective violence, empires implemented a highly militarised farmer-solider system in the frontier, cut the enemy’s line of supply and tried out different kinds of weapons. Rather than from a social adaptability perspective but a logistical and technological one, Dr. TSE’s lecture provided a new method for the interpretation of the socio-political structure in the early imperial era.


Recapping the Academic Seminar “Making Sense of Numerical Scores in Twentieth Century Chinese Examinations” Delivered by Dr. CHU Shiuon on 1 June 2018

Dr. CHU Shiuon of Hamilton College, was invited by the Department to present a lecture to faculty members and students.

Dr. CHU looked into cases of controversies over examination scores in China and Taiwan from the 1920s to the 1960s. The seminar highlighted how modernised testing methods, which were supposed to be objective and scientific, continued to generate ambiguities and confusions.


Recapping the Academic Seminar “Scribes, Assistants, and the Materiality of Administrative Documents in Qin-Early Han China” Delivered by Dr. MA Tsang Wing on 1 June 2018

Dr. MA Tsang Wing of University of Freiburg, was invited by the Department to present a lecture to faculty members and students.

Based on the newly excavated legal and administrative texts from Liye, Shuihudi, and Zhangjiashan, this talk explored the complementary nature of the scribes (shi) and assistants (zuo) to understand the opening of the scribal profession. Dr. MA also developed a concept of “administrative literacy,” which suggested that the materiality of written surfaces was a significant factor in understanding the literacy of administrative officials in early Imperial China.


Recapping the Academic Seminar “Alternative Publications and Counter-Publics in 20th Century China: The Example of the Local Public Sphere in Early Republican Chengdu” Delivered by Prof. Sebastian VEG on 4 June 2018

Prof. Sebastian VEG of Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, was invited by the Department to present a lecture to faculty members and students.

Revisiting the notion of the public sphere, Prof. VEG explained the role of local press in Chengdu played in political issues in the early 20th century. Questions like how political issues became public, how discourses circulated were discussed in the seminar. The various disseminated texts helped us understand the formation of the reading public and the bottom-up activism led by major players including intellectuals, journalists and print entrepreneurs. The case study of Chengdu revealed a multi-directional circulation of ideas and the connection between the local and the nation.


Recapping the Academic Seminars Delivered by Prof. BU Xianqun, Institute of History, Chinese Academy of Social Science on 6 July 2018

Prof. BU Xianqu, Director of the Institute of History, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was invited by the Department and Chinese Institute of Academic Studies in Hong Kong as the guest speaker of Distinguished Lecture Series, entitled “Xianglun and Social Order: Historical Investigation of the Relation between Xianglun and the State from Eastern Zhou to Han-Wei Dynasties”.

Prof. BU discussed the definition, origin and development of Xianglun (public opinion in local society). Through analysing its value on maintaining the social order and helping construct the state influence in the local society, he pointed out the significance of Xianglun in the early Imperial China. As a sort of public opinion, Xianglun in the ancient China was often defined as a disseminating regional opinion on an individual’s character. Though the exact term “Xianglun” firstly appeared in Book of the Later Han, the tradition of such kind of local opinion seemed to exist even before the first Imperial dynasty. In pre-Qin period, the rulers had already attached importance to the public opinion while at the same time been having a tendency to suppress it, which formed at least a cornerstone of Qin’s legislation against some local opinions. In the successive Han empire, the ideology of Confucianism became predominate due to the imperial mandate and then gradually transformed the Xianglun. In fact, the imperial state also began to refer to the Xianglun in order to elect the potential officials from local counties, even though in the Former Han dynasty, the local society still preferred to commend the personal achievement and fortune, making the connection between the opinion and the state’s ideal not that close. The social atmosphere altered in the Later Han empire, in which the value of filial piety and knowledge prevailed, and personal value turned to rely on the individual’s morality. Since the state power along with government-advocating ideology directed the Xianglun and raised its status de facto high, Xianglun thus enhanced a more influential domination over the local order. But in the final phase of the Later Han dynasty, the power of making public opinion was concentrated in the hands of several families and famed scholars resided in the locals. Such a phenomenon of the organised Xianglun not only broke out of the traditional regional restriction in forming the opinion, but also made an obvious threat to authority of the state, by resulting in a strong detachment of the public opinion from central control. As a counter-move, the imperial court tried to establish a state-dominating evaluation system, which eventually evolved into the later state institution. The final coordination between the state and the public opinion in the locality actually revealed a political fact: the state would have to make compromise with the local powerful families if the central government intended to strengthen its centralised authority.

Interview with Wen Wei Pao


Recapping the Academic Counselling for New Students of the Undergraduate Programme conducted on 10 August 2018

To enable new students to gain a better understanding of the Undergraduate Programme offered by the Department of History, the Department organised an academic counselling session on 10 August 2018, which was attended by 60 new students.

Teaching members of the Department provided information on programme features, study schemes and course selection requirements. The Department’s senior undergraduate students were also invited to share their fruitful university life. Participants were keen to take the opportunity to meet and exchange views with the Department’s teaching staff.


Recapping the Orientation Workshop for Research Postgraduate Students 2018–19 conducted on 10 August 2018

The Orientation Workshop for Research Postgraduate Students was conducted on 10 August 2018. The workshop was hosted by Prof. POO Mu-chou, Division Head, and Prof. HO Pui Yin, Department Vice Chair. It aimed at giving an overview of the Department and programme features to postgraduate students. Miss Emily CHEUNG, Assistant Lecturer, then provided a briefing on the role of teaching assistants in the Department. Current students shared their experiences in studies at the Department and the University and life in Hong Kong with the new students at the workshop.


Recapping the “Kyoto University-CUHK History Student Cultural Exchange Seminar” held on 10 August 2018

With the welcome speech delivered by Prof. HO Pui Yin, History Department Vice Chair, the “Kyoto University-CUHK History Student Cultural Exchange Seminar” was held at G24 of Fung King Hey Building. Eight undergraduate students and one postgraduate student from Kyoto University visited the Department and participated in the seminar and gave presentations on three topics: “Culture of Japanese Anime & Manga”, “Japanese Food” and “Sado (Tea Ceremony)”. Seventeen undergraduate students of the Department and two undergraduate students of United College participated in the seminar. Presentations were also made by six undergraduate students of the Department on the following three topics: “History, Aesthetics and Collective Memories: Built Heritage in Hong Kong”, “Transformation in Hong Kong Death Treatment under Urbanisation” and “Tung Wah Group of Hospital — A Symbol of Cohesion of the Early Chinese Society”. Students from both universities greatly enjoyed the presentations and discussions at the seminar and the fellowship dinner.

Report by Dr. SIU Kam Wah


Upcoming Events

Academic Seminar

14 September 2018 (Friday)
How Shall We Use Sociological Investigations during the Republican Period as Historical Source?
Date : 14 September 2018 (Friday)
Time : 4:30pm–6:15pm
Venue : Room 302, 3/F, Lee Shau Kee Building, CUHK
Topic :
How Shall We Use Sociological Investigations during the Republican Period as Historical Source?
Speaker :
Prof. WANG Di
Department of History, University of Macau
Language : Putonghua
Enquiry : 3943 8541



Academic Seminar

20 September 2018 (Thursday)
Date : 20 September 2018 (Thursday)
Time : 10:00am–11:30am
Venue : Room 220, 2/F, Fung King Hey Building, CUHK
Topic : 歷史學的前世與今生
Speaker :
Prof. YANG Jun
College of the Humanities, Jilin University
Language : Putonghua
Enquiry : 3943 8541



Academic Seminar

21 September 2018 (Friday)
Date : 21 September 2018 (Friday)
Time : 4:30pm–6:15pm
Venue : Room 302, 3/F, Lee Shau Kee Building, CUHK
Topic : 五一廣場簡牘探討
Speaker : Prof. LAI Ming Chiu
Language : Putonghua
Enquiry : 3943 8541


Public Lectures on History 2018-19

With the theme of Key Political Figures of Modern China, two distinguished scholars will deliver lectures in October and November 2018.

4 October 2018 (Thursday)
First Lecture
Date : 4 October 2018 (Thursday)
Time : 5:00pm–6:30pm
Venue : Cho Yiu Conference Hall
G/F, University Administration Building, CUHK
Topic : Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek’s “Experiences in Japan”: Remodeling the Ideal Context of Modern China
Speaker : Prof. HUANG Tzu-chin
Research Fellow, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica
Moderator : Prof. POO Mu-chou
Division Head and Research Professor
Department of History, CUHK
Language : Putonghua
15 November 2018 (Thursday)
Second Lecture
Date : 15 November 2018 (Thursday)
Time : 7:00pm–8:30pm
Venue : Lecture Theatre, G/F, Hong Kong Central Library
66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Topic : The Legacy of Mao Zedong
Speaker :  Prof. YIP Hon Ming
Adjunct Professor, Department of History, CUHK
Moderator : Prof. HO Pui Yin
Vice Chair and Professor
Department of History, CUHK
Language : Cantonese

Admission is free; reservation is required.
– For online registration and more information, please visit
– Call at 3943 8541

Organisers:Department of History, CUHK; Centre for Comparative and Public History, Department of History, CUHK; MA Programme in Comparative and Public History, Department of History, CUHK; Hong Kong Public Libraries, Leisure and Cultural Services Department


For teachers and students who have information to share with the Department,
please email your articles in both Chinese and English to by 4:00pm every Tuesday.

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