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Glossary of Specialised Terms for the Archaeology, Art History, Visual Culture and Architectural History of China and Japan

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Principal Investigators : Nicolas Fiévé et Alain Thote

Disciplines Archaeology, Art History, Visual Culture

Participants :

Full Members

Li Guoqiang (Archaeozoology, Archaeobotany),
Corinne Tiry-Ono (Architecture and Urban Planning of Japan),
Olivier Venture (Palaeography, Epigraphy of Pre-imperial China)

International collaborators

Claire-Akiko Brisset (Japanese Visual Culture)


Aims : This new program focuses on problems of vocabulary. Indeed, specialised terms concerning archaeology, art history and architecture both in Chinese and in Japanese, rarely feature in bilingual dictionaries, which makes reading books and articles on these subjects particularly difficult (For Japan, some tools exist already, namely : A dictionary of Japanese art terms : bilingual (Japanese & English) 和英対照日本美術用語辞典, Tōkyō : Tōkyō bijutsu, 1990. For China, it is also the case, but numerous terms do not feature (a systematic bibliography will gradually be established as the programme progresses) ). Moreover, this vocabulary isn’t included in unilingual Chinese and Japanese dictionaries either. Some attempts have been made to publish glossaries. But these are limited to everyday vocabulary and cannot reflect the language’s evolution. In China for example, the introduction of western concepts over the last thirty years in different fields such as art history, archaeology and the conservation of architectural heritage, has forced scholars to create new terms. In the mean time, other terms that were used in the first half of the 20th century have since disappeared. In this way, the glossary will necessarily include a historical aspect—for the terms that are today abandoned remain in books and articles of that period.

Methodology : To address the challenges that this situation presents, it is necessary to create our own glossary, which is what most scholars do. By pooling together everyone’s expertise, we will be able to make an extremely useful tool accessible to all. The creation of this tool will also foster fruitful exchanges between scholars, and cause them to reflect on their own discipline.

Expected Results : We aim to create an illustrated online glossary that will be freely accessible to all researchers. This glossary will be of great interest to them as well as to students working in these research fields.

Planning : Preparation of the program over the course of 2017, and looking into expertise external to the Research Unit ; initiation of the program in the course of 2018 ; organisation of a China/Japan seminar focused on problems of terminology, preparation of a database (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) ; specialised workshops on specific topics (architecture, gardens, textiles, ceramics, field archaeology, ancient terminology—based on literary sources, etc.) ; progressive augmentation of the online glossary by topic.

Scientific output and planned scientific activities : Creation of a website freely accessible to all.