Chinese Jews: Aspects of their history and music lecture at SOAS

Dr Knapp Lecture

The Jewish Music Institute at SOAS, are holding a lecture with one of our most esteemed lectures and academics; Dr Alexander Knapp.

This lecture brings to the public ground breaking research in the field of ethnomusicology and is one of the few events that connects tri-laterally between Chinese, British and Jewish cultures.

The social, cultural, religious and musical history of ethnically European Jewish immigrants and refugees living in China during the 19th and 20th centuries has been covered in some detail by both Chinese and Western commentators, the music of the ethnically Chinese Jews (Yóu Tài Rén) remains among the few remaining enigmas in the field of Jewish ethnomusicology.


In this lecture Dr Knapp’s will offer as comprehensive an overview as possible of all the relevant sources of information available, with special reference to the vocal and instrumental practices associated with the synagogue in the city of Kaifeng in Henan Province – one-time capital of China, and centre of Jewish life for many centuries. In addition to written documents, he will share some of the fascinating insights gained through his research and meetings with Chinese academics and informants during four visits to China (1993, 1994, 1996 and 2010), primarily in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Kaifeng. The lecture will begin with a brief historical and geographical description of Jewish entry into China.

Contemporary accounts of everyday life in Kaifeng in the 12th century then lead to more detailed observations about the religious life of the Jews, with the aid of visual illustrations. This talk concludes with an assessment of the present-day situation in Kaifeng, the Central Asian connection and the potential for new discoveries.


Date: Thursday 6th February
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Square, Room V11, Penton Rise, Kings Cross, London, WC1X 9EW

There is also a book now ticket link for people. Click here

The event is free but due to lecture theatre capacity we would ask that people reserve their place by booking through the web or if the reservation is greater than 10 by calling the office on 0207 898 4307.

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