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CGED Research Seminar Series

“Little Flowers”: Gender, Religion and Epistolary Writing in Rural China


Speaker: Ji Li, Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor of History, School of Modern Languages and Cultures (China Studies) and Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, HKU

Respondent: Su Yun Kim, Associate Professor, Korean Studies, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, HKU

Moderator: Pete Millwood, Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Faculty of Arts, HKU

Date: 13 April 2022 (Wednesday)

Time: 5:00 PM

Delivery: via Zoom

In 1858, Father Dominique Pourquié, who had been working in Manchuria for a decade, wrote an emotional letter to his colleagues in Paris, describing the life story of a Chinese Christian woman and praising her as “a little flower”. Thirteen years later, in 1871, three letters written by Chinese Catholic virgins from a small village in Manchuria, arrived in Paris, requesting Father Pourquié’s return. Sharing rare voices of rural Chinese women in different historical periods, this talk examines correspondence exchanged between missionaries and Chinese Catholic women since the late nineteenth century. It investigates how gender relations, religious literacy, and epistolary communication are entangled and shaped Christian women’s writing, belief, and awareness of self in rural China.

Ji Li is Assistant Professor of History in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Hong Kong. Her research areas include social and religious history of late imperial and modern China, history of Christianity, religion and local society, and women and gender. She is the author of “God’s Little Daughters: Catholic Women in Nineteenth-Century Manchuria” (Washington 2015) and “Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP) and China from the Seventeenth Century to the Present” (Brill 2021). 

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