Brief Introduction to the Collection
The SASS Collection of Intellectual, Social, and Technological History of the People’s Republic of China, donated by Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) to the Institute of Sinology at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in 2006, offers fascinating and multifaceted possibilities of researching on contemporary China. Integrated into the main library system of FAU, the collection contains approximately 100,000 separate volumes as well as a variety of periodicals (approx. 10,000 bounded volumes) published from the late 1940s to the 1980s.
It features an assortment of publications ranging from translated Marxist classics to medical textbooks, from philosophical and literary works to agriculture handbooks and propaganda pamphlets, from popular youth magazines to academic journals. The major fields this collection covers are technology and science (19,000 volumes), economics, industry, agriculture, and commerce (15,000 volumes), history and historical science (11,000 volumes) as well as literature and arts (14,000 volumes). Given the increasing academic interest in the early PRC, it is particularly worth mentioning that the collection offers a trove of primary materials from the early 1950s to the late 1970s.
The collection also has a large number of books (monographs and textbooks) on natural sciences, engineering (with blueprints of machines), geology, medicine, astronomy, etc. Researchers of history may trace the anti-Japanese sentiment in current China back to the publications on the “Anti-Japanese War” (1937-45) in the 1950s and the 1960s. They can also feel the political climate of the early PRC by looking at the discourse of liberating Taiwan in the mid-1950s. The “internal publications” such as the collections of “anti-Chinese expressions” by Soviet Communist Party and those of Eastern European countries (e.g. Czechoslovakia) would enable the researcher to deepen his/her understanding of the Sino-Soviet conflict in the early 1960s.
For researchers working in the field of cultural studies, the collection’s offer is massive and diverse. The materials on the perennial campaign of “Learning from Lei Feng” display an impressive variety as oral performance (music/lyric, traditional opera scripts, bamboo clapper talk, drama for children), textual narrative (Lei Feng’s diary, poems on Lei Feng, children’s story, movie script) as well as picture albums, which would allow the researcher to trace the changing connotations and forms of propaganda in the campaign from 1963 to the mid-1970s. The abundance of scripts of drama and opera in the 1950s and 1960s can be used for investigating the modernizing/propagandizing process of these genres as well as their role in promoting the ideas of patriotism, class struggle, revolutionary spirit, and socialist construction in the first decades of the PRC, which offers new insights in the cultural life, especially for the 1960s and 1970s. For instance, a closer look at the periodical Chinese Workers (Zhongguo gongren, 1950-70) can lead to an insight into the promotion of worker’s culture as a new sort of urban life in the early PRC. The Communist Party’s desire of modernizing China is also reflected in their remapping of cities and erection of new socialist buildings, as illustrated by the book A Decade of Architectural Design (Jianzhu sheji shinian, 1949-1959).
In the field of literature, the collection houses an immense variety of Chinese and foreign (i.e. translated, and not limited to the Soviet Union) literary works, ranging from propaganda literature and publications of populist stories encouraging anti-Western sentiments during the early 1960s to crime stories and science fiction. Together with literary journals and popular magazines published around the same time, they invite ventures for new discoveries.
This collection – one that is unique in Europe – offers many possibilities of tracing back the history of major upheavals and gradual changes in the PRC from the postwar period to the early 1980s. For further information about the collection catalogue, possible research stays in Erlangen as well as any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact (see Contact).
The Book Donation by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS)
In 2006 the Institute of Sinology at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg received an extensive book donation from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. The Academy had sorted out its roughly 100.000 duplicates, which were allocated to the Institute of Sinology in Erlangen for research purposes.
Screening the donation
It was Professor Xiong Yuezhi who took the initiative to launch this donation. Professor Xiong had stayed in Erlangen for research, participating in the collaboration project Exchanges of Knowledge between China and the West that focussed on historical and philosophical dimensions of knowledge transfer between China and the Occident.
The collection that arrived in Erlangen in 2006 covers the book production from the late 1940s to the early 1980s. By acquiring this collection the Sinological Institute disposes of a unique library covering books and journals in the field of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences published in the People’s Republic of China. This is especially significant, as Chinese publications of the 1950s and 60s - as sources for all areas of contemporary history of the People’s Republic - are not available in this kind of concentration anywhere else in Europe
The collection quantitatively and qualitatively shows different foci, four of them bear special significance:
1. Science and technology (19 000 volumes)
2. Economy, industry, agriculture and trade (15 000 volumes)
3. History and science of history (11 000 volumes)
4. Literature and art (14 000 volumes)
Donation ceremony in January 2006
On 11 January 2006 the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg thanked Professor Xiong Yuezhi, then vice president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, in a ceremonial act for the book donation. Guests of honour were Ma Canrong, then ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Siegfried Balleis and Ulrich May, then the mayors of the cities Erlangen and Nuremberg, as well as Günther Gloser, then minister of state in the Foreign Office.
The books were welcomed in Erlangen under the slogan „Ten thousand miles, ten thousand books“. An academic workshop on books and the book market in China was held in the afternoon as well.
Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske, President of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg,
and Ma Canrong, then ambassador of the People’s Republic (centre)
Prof. Dr. Xiong Yuezhi presents some of the donated books to Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske
(President of the FAU)
Prof. Dr. Michael Lackner giving a talk at the gala