Chinese Eunuch History Revisited at the RAS


Last Thursday, 4 June 2015, we were delighted to host a lecture by Dr Melissa Dale (University of San Francisco) on “Discovering the Real Lives of China’s Emasculated Servants: Chinese Eunuch History Revisited”.

Dr Melissa Dale addresses the RAS

Having worked closely with archival sources in China and elsewhere, Dr Dale was able to provide fascinating and unexpected insights into the hidden lives of eunuchs in the Qing imperial court. Dr Dale described how primary sources reveal a clandestine realm of eunuch society situated close to the seat of imperial power, where eunuchs came to challenge authority and pushed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. 
Historically a stigmatised social group, eunuchs were largely illiterate due to their humble social origins, as well as being economically marginalized; and so recreating their lives is a difficult but important historical task. The lecture stimulated a particularly lively discussion afterwards, the number of questions and contributions from the audience testament to the originality of Dr Dale’s research. 
As mentioned previously, our scheduled lecture for 11 June has been postponed. However, we still have other events coming up next week. On Thursday 18 June, George Kam Wah Mak (Hong Kong Baptist University) will speak on The Annotation Question of the Chinese Protestant Bible in Late Qing China. Before that, on Tuesday 16 June we will have a film showing of The love of books: a Sarajevo story, directed by Sam Hobkinson. We hope that you will join us for these exciting events.