The Center for the Comparative Study of Antiquity (CCSA) under the Research Institute for the Humanities (RIH) aims at sponsoring and coordinating research and teaching activities in the fields focusing on the ancient and medieval world, East and West. The main thrust of the CCSA will be promoting comparative studies of antiquity, in order to create a special edge for the teaching and research of humanities at CUHK. The members of the CCSA encompass faculty members from the Arts Faculty, including History, Chinese, Cultural and Religious Studies, and Fine Arts.
The Center for the Comparative Study of Antiquities (CCSA) is conceived with the following considerations: the study of humanities could be more meaningful when we can fully appreciate the common roots and individual values of different cultures. One important component in achieving this appreciation is to be aware of the differences and similarities of civilizations, and to understand the reasons why these differences and similarities exist. This is a way to obtain a higher level of understanding of human cultures that would be difficult to accomplish from a single perspective. Since all modern cultures descend in one way or another from ancient forebears, it makes good sense to improve our understanding of the connection between our modern world and how it evolved through a comparative study of its earlier forms.
Since the study of antiquity has been characterized by the lack of enough material to understand the life and thought of the people in the ancient world, a comparative perspective would have the effect of provoking our awareness of problems and issues that do not surface in one culture because of the lack of sources yet are present in another. In other words, in order to make sure that we do not look at our sources and interpret them with only mono-cultural reference, a comparative approach could offer better chances for us to arrive at a less skewed view.
Scholars working in different modern intellectual traditions are also prone to similar problems. One often is used to applying the intellectual tools that one learned in one¡¯s own scholarly tradition and thus perceives problems and conducts studies accordingly, without the awareness of how people from another intellectual tradition would have perceived and solved the problems. Thus it is mutually beneficial for scholars who work in the field of ancient studies and Humanities in general to pull all the resources together and enhance our research by cross disciplinary collaborations and applying comparative methods.
To enhance the teaching and research of cultures in Antiquity at CUHK on related subjects such as history, religion, philosophy, art, literature, and archaeology, from a comparative point of view.
To integrate the intellectual resources of existing faculty members at CUHK whose teaching and research may concern ancient and/or medieval cultures, East or West, and those members who are interested in looking at the ancient roots of their subjects from a comparative perspective.
To enhance scholarly exchanges with scholars in other Hong Kong and international institutions who also work with similar aspirations.
The CCSA expects to recruit faculty members from, but not exclusively from, the Faculty of Arts. Any faculty from CUHK who are interested in developing their teaching and research subjects toward a comparative perspective could join.
A steering committee would be the main decision body of the center, headed by a director, who is responsible for coordinating the members and executing programs decided by the committee.
An international advisory board would be formed, consisting of experts in various fields (e.g. China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe).
Jerrold S. Cooper, Professor Emeritus of Assyriology, The Johns Hopkins University
Christopher Eyre, Professor of Egyptology, The University of Liverpool
Lothar von Falkenhausen, Professor of Art History, UCLA
Lisa Raphals, Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Riverside
Walter Scheidel, Professor of Classics, Stanford University
Wan Sze-kar, Professor of Old Testament, Southern Methodist University, Texas
The CCSA also welcomes faculties from other universities in Hong Kong, China, and around the world to join as correspondence members, to participate and contribute to the promotion of comparative study of history and culture in the wider sense. Correspondence members will be given notices concerning special events, conferences, and workshops that the Center organizes and their participation will be welcomed.
Providing support network among members. This can be done by giving guest talk in classes or providing relevant information or materials.
Inviting guest speakers from outside.
Holding workshops and conferences.
1. Invited lectures: speaker will be invited to give a talk related to a theme of a comparative nature.
2. Small workshops to discuss topics around a common theme of a comparative nature.
(1) Syllabi of comparative courses taught at the university level around the world.
(2) Tools useful for the studying and teaching of subjects of comparative nature.
(3) Annotated Bibliography for the comparative study of ancient cultures. The annotation will include book reviews and abstracts of articles.