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THE HONG KONG ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOCIETY
AND THE HONG KONG MUSEUM OF HISTORY
PRESENT

An Anthropological Talk by Reijiro Aoyama

Silent Conversation: Writing as a mode of face-to-face interaction in early modern East Asia

Friday 23 July 2021, 7:00pm
Hong Kong Museum of History
Lecture Hall, Ground Floor, 100 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Sharing no spoken language, diplomats and educated individuals from China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam often resorted to 'brush talk' - written exchanges in literary Chinese - in transnational encounters throughout history. Utilizing brush talk as a lingua franca, East Asian literati synchronously yet 'silently' negotiated conflicts, exchanged inner thoughts and created a convivial atmosphere, all of which were essential ingredients of the region's cross-border interactions that transcended the purely linguistic functions of Chinese. Aoyama uses silent conversations conducted by Sun Yat-sen, Liang Qichao, Ōkuma Shigenobu and Phan Bội Châu to explore socio-cultural functions of Chinese writing in order to analyze this (unique) cultural practice from an anthropological perspective. He problematizes the meaning of literacy in translinguistic settings and questions Lévi-Strauss's proposition that the primary function of written communication is to facilitate slavery.

Reijiro Aoyama is a Research Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research has focused on transnationalism and migrant communities in East Asia.

   

 

 
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