Sinology - China Studies

Sinology, also known as "China Studies" or "Chinese Studies" (Chinese 漢學 / 汉学, Pinyin hànxué - "Han-Lore"), is a field of linguistics and cultural studies that originated in the 16th century and deals with the languages, writing, politics, society, philosophy, literature, economy and history of the Han (漢人 / 汉人, hànrén - "Han people").

History of Sinology

The beginning of Sinology was made by Christian missionaries who studied the Chinese language and culture for their activity in China. The first translations of Chinese classics appeared therefore also in Latin, from where also the name Sinology comes, since "Sina", probably derived from the Qín Dynasty 221 B.C., is the Latin word for China. Conversely, the missionaries of that time translated the Bible into Chinese and wrote reports about China, which was hardly known until then, which were received with great interest in Europe.

The first chair of Sinology was established in Paris at the beginning of the 19th century.

Sinology in China

In the West, synology is sometimes understood as the Confucian or Taoist and Buddhist tradition, its schools and studies of canonical works, especially the analytes of Confucius. The idea in the broad sense of classical culture, even humanistic, in both its philological and civil society aspects, would have its Chinese equivalent in Confucianism.1 But in traditional Chinese culture, the concept of sinology itself does not exist. The term and the concept came through Japan in the late 19th century, when the first Chinese universities were founded. In a first step, the term Hanxue is used (traditional Chinese:漢學, simplified Chinese:汉学), a semantic copy of Japanese Kangaku (漢学), which literally means "studies of the Han", i.e. it refers to the Chinese majority ethnicity.

Since the founding of the Republic of China, and especially after the May 4th Movement (1919), studies of Chinese literature, history and philosophy have been promoted, especially through the founding of the Sinica Academy in Beijing and its Institute of History and Philology in 1928. The Chinese term that was then widespread and is still used today is guoxue (traditional Chinese: 國學; simplified Chinese: 国学), which literally means "national studies".

One of the most important figures in modern Sinology is Cai Yuanpei (1868-1940), especially in the field of pedagogy, who headed the Sinica Academy until his death. Other pioneers of modern Chinese sinology were Liang Qichao (1873-1929), author of Human Words (人间词话) and Zhang Taiyan (1879-1936), who wrote an introduction to Chinese studies (国学概论). On the other hand, the historians Chen Yu (1890-1969) and Qian Mu (1895-1969) are worth mentioning. In the philosophical field, the figures of Hu Shi (1891-1962) deserve special mention, among whose works we should mention the history of Chinese philosophy (中国哲学史大纲) and Qian Zhongshu (1910-1998).

In 1949, the Sinai Academy was moved to Taiwan, while on the Chinese mainland the Academy of Sciences was founded, and since 1977 the Academy of Social Sciences. In 1992 the "guoxie" (national studies) were introduced at Beijing University and shortly afterwards at the main Chinese universities.