The Pope! A Utopian Model in Late Ming China

Visiting Scholar Talks

Jan 25, 2024 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA,

Hybrid Event - Register here for Zoom


Chen Tuo | Assistant Professor, Faculty of History, Nankai University; BC Ricci Institute–HYI Joint Visiting Researcher Fellowship Program, 2023-2024


M. Antoni J. Ucerler, S.J. | Associate Professor, History, Boston College; Director, Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History


Sophie Ling-chia Wei | Associate Professor, Department of Translation, Chinese University of Hong Kong; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24

This is a hybrid event. You are welcome to attend in person, or can register to attend Zoom.

Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History

Scholars have discussed in depth how the political system of China was once regarded by Voltaire and others as a model of “enlightened absolutism” during the Enlightenment in Europe, but have not paid much attention to the fact that Chinese literati also regarded the Pope as a utopian model in the late Ming period (late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries). This talk focuses on the strategies employed by European missionaries to introduce the papal system to China, and how non-Christian Chinese literati sought to understand and interpret it. Some Chinese elites, such as Zhou Yingbin and Zhang Dai, praised that the papal system had surpassed the “three ancient dynasties,” and even combined the merits of Confucius, Mozi, Laozi, Shakyamuni, Duke Huan of Qi, and Duke Wen of Jin all in one person. Conversely, others perceived the papal system as a significant threat to the Chinese political system. These commentaries on the Pope reveal the late Ming literati’s divergent thoughts about the relationship between political and intellectual authorities.