July is the last month of my stay in Paris. Since all EHESS seminars finished in June, I had more free time to study and do research on my own. Therefore, different from the aspects I reported in May and June, I will write from only two perspectives, study/research and daily life.
1) Study and Research
Getting used to the way of using BnF and other research libraries in Paris, working became more efficient. I continued to work at the rare book room at BnF Mitterrand, as well as Richelieu, consulting as many original copies as I can and taking record of everything I read and noticed during the process. As for modern day literature, because there was only limited time left, I spent much time making photocopies of works related to my topic and save the reading time for later.
I wrote a lot about my personal meetings with established scholars in my last two reports, and for July, I had my last meeting with my supervisor Professor Romano, and another meeting with Professor Pierre Antoine Fabre, a scholar of religious history of early modern Europe. In my meeting with Professor Fabre, I had chances to raise as many as I wish questions on religious and spiritual background of different Catholic orders, and the discussion was very helpful for me to think more about the “luggage” missionaries were carrying when they set foot in East Asia and how Europe and Asia as well as other regions were connected in terms of some major debates and controversies.
The highlight of this month’s research is my trip to Leuven. I went on a two-day trip to Katholieke Universiteit Leuven to visit one of the most prominent scholars of history of Christianity in China. Nicolas Standaert kindly welcomed me and showed me around major collections of KU Leuven library. We also had several meetings during my stay to discuss my Ph.D project. Besides receiving advice for my own research, we also exchanged information of recent research in this field done by scholars in Japan and in Europe. Professor Standaert also kindly invited me to join one of his ongoing projects and we will meet again in Shanghai later this year.
During the last few days of my stay, I met with Hélène, who works on history of Christianity in Japan and now teaches at Université de Bretagne-Sud, and also reunited with Lisa who used to work in Tokyo and now based in Graduate School Global Intellectual History, Berlin. While I was travelling in Berlin, another research fellow there, Alex, also generously offered his time and gave me great advice for my project.
To sum up my three months study and research, it refreshed and strengthened my passion for academic research and everyday it challenges me to rethink what kind of research I am doing and how I am going to carrying it on. I didn't succeed to write one or two chapters during my stay but got plenty of time to read and think of ways to polish the structure of my dissertation and questions I intend to ask through it. Thanks to the numerous meetings I had with dozens of scholars, I feel more connected with people in my current field and am very grateful to be known and accepted into the community. All in all, I think I have achieved my overall goal I set before I came to Paris and am much better prepared and equipped to get back to my writing process.
2) Life in Paris
How many museums are there in Paris? Numerous! Although some would give the number of 70, or 130, but for someone who only stays here for a short period of time, there are just too many. Whatever one looks for, history, renaissance art, modern art, local culture, exotic culture, one can always find somewhere to go. After carefully recalling, I realized that I manage to visit ten* of them, all very thoroughly, during my not very long stay. But if I am asked to choose only one, although it sounds very cliché, I will still choose the Louvre, simply because it has all one needs to understand two hundred years of history of France. The connection is so real and impact so great, when standing before a real David, Rubens, or Vermeer. It is very convenient and also saves money to use Paris Museum pass, which allows unlimited visits to major museums and landmarks within two, four or six days. Some museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of each month and some are free all year around for people under 26.
*Musée du Louvre, Musée Jacquemart-André, Musée national des Arts asiatiques-Guimet, Musée national du Moyen Âge, Musée d'Orsay, Musée de l'Orangerie, Musée de l'Homme, Musée Marmottan Monet, Musée National d'Art Moderne/Centre Georges-Pompidou, Musée de Montmartre
I was very lucky to be in Paris during what can be seen as a festival season. July 14th is the national day of France, also known at the Bastille Day, celebrating the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. But the real national day of this year seems to be the day after, when France won the 2018 World Cup champion. It was quite an exciting experience to witness the moment together with French people. Seeing people waving national flags, shouting and screaming, I also felt very strongly that how one’s national identity was “constructed” or further strengthened during this kind of event. Being a French today means being the world champion, and it is true for everyone joining the celebration. At that moment, all one can feel was blind excitement.
I had a very enjoyable stay in Paris during these three months, thanks to the help of many old and new friends. Francesca sometimes joined me for my Sunday outing, Seyni helped me with my French reading comprehension, Gabriela took me to local crêpe restaurant, Silvia welcomes me in Leuven and Sam in Berlin. I thank everyone of them and many others who offered help.
Last but not least, I want to express my sincere gratitude for Global History Collaborative in the University of Tokyo for providing me with such a precious opportunity to study in Paris. It has already become the highlight of my Ph.D study and what I gained during this will be dearly cherished.
Main library of KU Leuven
Fireworks along the river Seine on Bastille Day
Parc du Champ-de-Mars after France won the World Cup