Tobunken Seminar

Tobunken Seminar Series by Prof. Xavier PAULES (EHESS)

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Date and Time1st lecture: April 19 (Fri) 2024, 14:00-15:30 PM(Japan Time)
2nd lecture: April 25 (Thu) 2024, 14:00-15:30 PM(Japan Time)

VenueMain Conference Room (3F), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo
Title1st lecture: “Three-step Games versus Four-step Games: An Attempt at Categorizing the Supply of Gambling Games of Chance in Late Imperial-Republican China”

2nd lecture: “New insights on Republican China: Reconsidering the Role of Warlords and Overseas Chinese”
SpeakerXavier PAULES, Associate Professor, EHESS
ChairProf. Takahiro Nakajima, Director of the IASA
[1st lecture] One might think it obvious or “natural” that all gambling games of chance should follow a three-step sequence, namely: 1) the players bet, 2) the draw takes place, 3) the winnings are distributed. Baccarat, Black Jack, roulette, Boule, slot machines, lotteries, and all the most popular gambling games of chance in the world nowadays indeed follow this sequence. As far as China is concerned, however, this is a misguided assertion. By drawing on a great variety of sources, it is possible to observe that the great majority of Chinese gambling games of chance during the Qing dynasty and up to the middle of the twentieth century actually followed a different pattern. Instead of three steps, the games have four steps in the following sequence: 1) the draw takes place but remains hidden, 2) the players bet, 3) the result of the draw is uncovered, 4) the winnings are distributed. I will describe the great variety of four-step games and provide tentative explanations for the existence of such a pattern.

[2nd lecture] In this conference, I will present two of what I consider the most innovative points I make in my recent book The Republic of China, 1912 to 1949 (Cambridge: Polity, 2023). First, I reconsider the role of warlords in connection with the process of state building. I argue that state-building efforts by central authorities were not the only ones significant and worthy of attention. Contrary to the usual depiction of warlords as only concerned with their personal wealth and power, I argue that many had a strong concern for state-building. Warlords’ achievements were impressive, for example, in the realms of transport infrastructure, economic development and education. Second, in terms of cultural circulations, it is a widely shared view that China was under massive Western influence during the Republic. But considerably overlooked is the fact that, at the same period, China exerted a much deeper cultural influence than previously in South-east Asia. I explore the ways overseas Chinese contributed to greatly expand the cultural influence of China. Their dissemination of ways of life and popular culture should lead us to revise our vision of China’s cultural interaction with the rest of the world.

Organizer:Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo