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【Seminar】The Yangtze and the Rhine: A historical conference


The Yangtze and the Rhine: A historical conference

Rotterdam & Leiden, 22 to 25 May 2019


After a first meeting in Shanghai in October 2017, we found that we have similar academic interests, as both rivers have and had similar problems. Nonetheless, comparing aspects of the history of the two rivers and the ports at their estuaries is not as easy as thought. Therefore, in this second conference, we try to find a way to come to a better understanding of these aspects along both rivers by making sessions on a number of topics:


1. Economic/business aspects

2. Labour/Social History

3. Cultural/religious aspects

4. Political/juridical aspects

5. Environmental aspects


Day 1 – Thursday May 23, Erasmus University Rotterdam

(Woudenstein Campus, Mandeville Building Room T 3-21)


09:00 Official opening. Short openings word by Ms. Kristel Baele, Chair of the Board of Erasmus University and Dr. Meng Qingyu, Education Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, The Hague


9:15-12:15 Morning session: Economic aspects of River societies:

a) Shipping, barging and adapting the channel to the needs of shipping

b) Traders and their contacts along the river

c) Competition with other modes of transport:


Presentations by:

l  Prof. Wang Zhenzhong (Fudan University, Shanghai) 王振忠明清徽商与长江流域的木材贸易Huizhou Merchants and Timber Trade in the Yangtze River Valley in the Late Imperial Period

l  Prof. Ralf Banken (Goethe University Frankfurt) Trade and traders along the Rhine

l  Prof. Chen Yao (Xiamen University, Amoy) 陈瑶: 河流脉动:长江中游的木帆船与市场网络(1550-1850) River Stringing Markets: Junks and Markets Networking in the Middle Yangtze River, 1550-1850

l  Prof. Hein Klemann (Erasmus University Rotterdam) Competition between Dutch skippers and German ship owners and the transition to steam

l  Prof. Fan Jinmin (Nanjing University, Nanjin) 范金民:明清运河运输市场的考A Study of the Transportation Market along the Grand Canal during the Ming-Qing Period


13:30-17:00 Afternoon session: Labour and Social History of River societies

a) Social and cultural integration along the river

b) Child labour and labour of women in barging

c) Living on the water


Presentations by:

l  Xu Guanmian MA (Victor) 徐冠冕 .(Leiden University) Colonial products on the Chinese market

l  Dr. Tamira T.J. Combrink (University of Amsterdam) Colonial products and markets along the Rhine

l  Prof. Marlou Schrover (Leiden University) German migrants in Rotterdam and Rotterdam business

l  Prof. Feng Xianliang (Fudan University, Shanghai) 冯贤亮:城乡之间:晚明江南士人的移居、定居及其社会网Between city and country: migration, settlement and social network of literati in the south of lower Yangtze river during the late Ming dynasty



Day 2 – Friday May 24, Leiden University

(Gravensteen, Pieterskerkhof 6)


09:00-12:00 Morning session: Political/juridical aspects of river societies

a) Modern market relations and its institutions

b) Dike building, river regulation, water management or canalization


Presentations by:

l  Dr. Nils Disco (Technical University Twente): Regulation of transnational rivers (Maas, Rhine and Scheldt).

l  Prof. Wu Tao (Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai) 吴滔: 华洋杂处下的西津渡: 19世纪京口江岸区域的社会秩序Xijin Ferry under a mixed society of Chinese and Foreigners: the social order of riverbank area of Jingkou in the 19th century

l  Dr. Joep Schenk (Utrecht University) Political regulation of International Rivers.


14:00-15:00 Keynote Lecture:

l  Prof. Petra van Dam (Free University of Amsterdam), Amphibious cultures along rivers: coping with flooding in the organic period.



15:30-17:30 Afternoon Session: Cultural and religious aspects of the river

a) Religions or nationalistic river cults and their impact

b) Songs, poems and paintings about the river and its messages


Presentations by:

l  Dr. Pia Nordblom (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) Rhine romanticism and tourism since the end of 18th century.

l  Prof. Ben Wubs (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Prof. Werner Plumpe (Goethe University Frankfurt) Weber, Protestant ethics and capitalism along the Rhine

l  Prof. Leonard Blussé (Leiden University) The use of leeboards on Chinese and Dutch sailing vessels

l  Prof. Wang Jian (Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai) 王健:棉业、海运与元末以来江南地区的黄道婆信仰Cotton Industry, Maritime Transportation and Huang Daopo Belief in Lower Yangtze Region since Late Yuan Dynasty



Day 3 – Saturday May 25, Maritime Museum Rotterdam

(Verolmezaal, Leuvenhaven 1, Rotterdam)


10:00-13:00 Morning session: Environmental aspects of human use of rivers

a) River regulation and its consequences:

b) Global heating and the river


Presentations by:

l  Prof. Christoph Bernhardt (Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space) The River as a resource and a threat. Environmental problems and water management along the Rhine in the 19th and 20th century.

l  Prof. Xie Shi (Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou) 谢湜: 17世纪江南基层水利的社会与政治语境A study of local water conservancy in social and political context in seventeenth century lower Yangtze Delta

l  Dr. Nobert Kriedel (Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine), Low water levels on the Rhine in 2018 and their impact on the inland navigation industry and on industrial production in Germany

l  Prof. Yu Xinzhong (Nankai University, Tianjin) 余新忠:清代长江流域城市水环境问题研究A Study on Urban Water Environmental Problems of the Yangtze River Valley in the Qing Dynasty.