Chinese government hands out award to Leonard Blussé

Professor emeritus Leonard Blussé, of the Institute for History, has won the ‘Special Book Award of China’. The Chinese government awards this prize to translators, writers and editors who have contributed to making China better known among non-Chinese.


New light on relationship China and outside world

The recognition professor Blussé received from the Chinese government is in part because of the many years he explored the archives of the Dutch East Indian Company. In these archives, he found new information on the interaction between Chinese societies and the outside world in the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘The history of the Chinese people has for a long time largely been imagined in terms of the gradual territorial expansion. Yet, in my point of view, the forgotten heroes of China's history are the sailors, fishermen, traders, miners and other entrepreneurs from China's southeastern coastal provinces who, over the past centuries, went overseas and have sought to build up new livelihoods outside the orbit of the former Chinese imperial government’, said Blussé.

A future in teaching

During his academic career, Blussé has published many books on Southeast and East Asia. He hopes to add two or three more books in the coming years, but is also focused on teaching young academics. On this, he says: ‘You could decide to make yourself known to the world as a famous writer, as long as you have all the qualities to do so and are egoistic enough. But you could also decide that you are a professor and you have to help the others – this is what those professors in Asia were doing for me, and it is exactly what I am doing for my students now.’