An Italian among Chinese Elite: Ludovico Nicola di Giura (1868-1947)

PhD project supervised by Prof.ssa Laura Cerasi, co-supervised by Prof.ssa Laura De Giorgi (Sept 2021 - Sept 2025) Project in collaboration with the Department of Humanities (DSU) and the Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies (DSLCC) of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC).

Jinxiao Wang

Despite his profession as a military doctor for the Italian Navy, Ludovico Nicola di Giura (1868-1947) was known to the world as sinologist, translator, writer and traveller. This four-year research takes a global microhistory perspective to compile a biography for the figure based on his published works, manuscripts, private collection and first-hand archival sources from Italy and China. Featured with L. N. di Giura’s geographical mobility, social integration, and contribution to Sino-Italian cultural exchange, this research advances on three dimensions: 1) L. N. di Giura’s life-in-mobile, namely Medical education and travelling with the Italian Navy (1868-1900), Life in China (1900-1931) and Prefect and Mayor of Chiaromonte (1931-1947); 2) his integration into the contemporary Chinese upper class, including the various forces that guided the fate of the country and the local intellectuals; 3) his re-discovery of Chinese civilization despite being an initially ambitious “Civilizing missionary”, as well as his efforts on introducing Chinese culture and community to the Italian public with his commentaries, translation and literary creation. The study will not only bring to light a figure buried in history, but will offer a microscopic view into the history about Italy and China at the turn of the 20th century, which indeed represents a starting point for the discovery of absolute novelties in this context.