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The ELTE Chinese Department turns 100 years old!

2023. June 07.

We celebrated the birthday with a PhD conference jointly organized with the University of Cambridge.

The two-day conference started on June 7th with a ceremonial opening. Prof. Dr. Imre Galambos of the University of Cambridge, Prof. Dr. László Borhy, Rector of ELTE, and Prof. Dr. Imre Hamar, Vice-Rector and Head of the Department of Chinese Studies at ELTE, gave speeches at the event. The opening ceremony included a musical concert by students from the Zhejiang Conservatory of Music who performed Chinese and European classical works, including even a Hungarian song. The conference was organized by the ELTE Confucius Institute.

In Hungary, the history of Chinese language teaching dates back to 1923 when the East Asian Institute was founded at ELTE. Its leader was the turkologist Vilmos Pröhle. Lajos Ligeti, who can be considered the father of Hungarian sinology, followed him. He was a student of the world-famous Parisian professor Paul Pelliot. In the 1950s, Sino-Hungarian relations strengthened, which gave the opportunity to many students to study in China. The real breakthrough came in 1985 when Chinese Studies was reclassified from a B to an A major. After that, more and more students applied to study Chinese.

In 2000, the doctoral program in Sinology was launched. Prof. Dr. Imre Hamar, who took over the leadership of the department in 2002, recalls that time:

"Although the circumstances were difficult and there was a shortage of full-time professors, our department launched a PhD in sinology in 2000, which was a historic step forward and ensured the education of a new generation of sinologists."

Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Imre Hamar, Chinese language teaching at ELTE has made significant progress, with the establishment of the only Chinese teacher training master's program in 2015. In 2009, the ELTE Institute of Far Eastern Studies, in cooperation with the ELTE Confucius Institute, founded the biannual and internationally award-winning study volume Far Eastern Studies.

Prof. Dr. Imre Hamar

In his speech, Prof. Dr. László Borhy, Rector of ELTE, also commemorated the past 100 years. In his welcome speech, the Head of the Department of Ancient Archaeology of ELTE emphasized that since its establishment, the teaching of Chinese language has continuously developed, and its popularity is clearly reflected in the number of students enrolled.

Prof. Dr. László Borhy

Prof. Dr. Imre Galambos of the University of Cambridge also stressed the importance of Chinese language learning and was pleased to share the 100-year history of the Chinese Department, having studied Chinese language and literature at ELTE from 1991 to 1993 and successfully graduated. The sinologist said that the idea of a joint doctoral conference had been on his mind during the pandemic and that he had looked forward to its realization. Accordingly, he said, "There is nothing more important than for PhD students working on China to get to know each other's areas of expertise and to support their fellow sinologists-to-be in their research with thought-provoking questions.”

Prof. Dr. Imre Galambos

A total of 19 PhD students presented their current research at the conference, which is expected to be held again next year due to its great success.

Conference program