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The Last Days of Ye Mingchen

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Event description

In the mid-nineteenth century Ye Minchen was one of the senior Chinese officials in the empire. The Governor of the Two Guang provinces – Guangdong and Guangxi – he was the official with whom representatives of the western powers most commonly interacted, and very commonly disliked. In January 1858, when the British and French stormed Guangzhou, he was captured and shortly thereafter sent to Calcutta. Chaloner Alabaster was appointed to be his interpreter and kept a diary of his time in India up to and including Ye’s death and the repatriation of his body to China. This seminar is an examination of surviving materials, including Alabaster’s diary, to trace Ye’s life after his capture and the circumstances of his death, about which there has been some dispute. 

About the Speaker

Benjamin Penny is Professor of Chinese History and Religion in the School of Culture, History, and Language, and Head of the ANU Taiwan Studies Program. His most recent book is A Young Englishman in Victorian Hong Kong: The Diaries of Chaloner Alabaster 1855-56. Other current projects he is working on include studies of Taiwanese new religions, 19th century Bible translation, and Song dynasty Daoist text history.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.



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