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EAHSF/JN Memorial Lecture

Background of the EAHSF Lecture
(renamed JN Memorial Lectures in 1995) Series

In gratitude to the many benefactors from Hong Kong who responded to the appeal for funding the building of a permanent Needham Research Library in Cambridge in the early 80s, the East Asian History of Science foundation (EAHSF) established an annual lecture for the benefit of the local academic community, students and interested public. The inaugural lecture was presented by Dr. Needham in 1983. Upon his death on 25 March 1995, the series was renamed the “Joseph Needham Memorial Lecture”. Thus far, 16 lectures by distinguished scholars have been presented since 1983. It was a great pleasure to welcome Professor Martin Jones, Chairman of the Needham Research Institute, and Vice-Master, Darwin College, Cambridge to deliver the 12th JN Memorial Lecture on 23 March 2018. A chronology of all these lectures are listed in the appendix.

First Lecture prologue.jpg

Monograph Cover of the “Inaugural EAHSF lecture

by Dr. Joseph Needham at HKU, Oct 1981

2001 - JN Memorial Lecture.jpg

The 3rd Joseph Needham Memorial Lecture by Prof Lu Yongxiang

Chronology of The EAHSF and the JN Memorial Lectureship Series


20 October 1983: The Inaugural EAHSF Lecture was delivered by Dr. Joseph Needham at the University of Hong Kong entitled “GUNPOWDER AS THE FOURTH POWER, EAST AND WEST”. A monograph was subsequently published by the HKU Press in 1985


17 December 1984: The Second EAHSF Lecture by Prof Nathan Sivin, University of Pennsylvania, jointly with the Chinese U of HK, and the University of Hong Kong, entitled:

‘Ailment & Cure in Traditional China”


1985: Prof Xia Nai was to deliver the Third EAHSF Lecture, “On the Origin of Chinese Civilization” but unfortunately cancelled due to his untimely death.


29 October 1986, Dr. Shigeru Nakayama, University of Tokyo, entitled “CHARACTERISTICS OF CHINESE ASTROLOGY”


28 October 1987, Prof Ke Tsun, Beijing University of Iron & Steel Technology, “CAST IRON TECHNOLOGY AND ITS IMPACT ON CHINESE AND WORL HISTORY”


25 October 1988, Prof Joseph C. Y. Chen, University of California, San Diego, “A REEXAMINATION OF THE EARLY SCIENCE IN CHINESE CIVILISATION”


The EAHSF series were interrupted from 1989 – 1994; upon the death of Dr Needham in March 1995, the EAHSF Lecture series were renamed the Joseph Needham Memorial (JN) Lecture:


12 October 1995, The First JN Memorial Lecture in 1995 was delivered by Prof Wang Gungwu, Vice-Chancellor, the University of Hong Kong, “A SCIENCE CIVILISATION FOR CHINA”


9 December 1999, The Second JN Memorial Lecture by Prof HO Peng Yoke, Director of the Needham Research Institute, entitled

“Science in Chinese Fiction: Zhuge Liang’s Magical Arts and Method of Weather Forecasting”

10 October 2001, The Third JN Memorial Lecture by Prof LU Yongxiang, President, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, entitled “Joseph Needham and Chinese Science”


9 December 2003, The Fourth JN Memorial Lecture by Dr. HUANG Hsing-Tsung, Former Deputy Director of the Needham Research Institute and a collaborator of the SCC series, entitled

“Ancient Chinese Food Technologies and Their Transmission to the West”.


22 March 2006, The Fifth JN Memorial Lecture by Dr. Robert B. Oxnam, President of the Needham Research Institute USA and President Emeritus, The Asia Society, USA entitled

“Joseph Needham’s Underlying Philosophy and its Relevance to 21st Century China”.


10 December 2007, The Sixth JN Memorial Lecture by M. James C. Y. Watt, Brooke Russell Astor Chairman, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, entitled “Art and Technology in Chinese Ceramics”


18 December 2008, The Seventh JN Memorial Lecture by Prof Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilisation, University of Cambridge,

entitled “Naturalist Illustration in Traditional China”.


8 May 2013, The Eight JN Memorial Lecture by Prof Mei Jianjun, Director of the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, entitled

 “The Growth of Chinese Civilisation: An Archaeo-metallurgical Perspective”.


9 December 2014, The Ninth JN Memorial Lecture by Professor Francesca Bray, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, entitled

 “Men Plough, Women Weave: Joseph Needham, Feminism and the History of Science and Technology in China”.


9 December 2015, The Tenth JN Memorial Lecture by Prof Christian Daniels, Prof of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, entitled:

“Needham’s Intellectual Heritage: University of Science with or without Civilisation”.


24 March 2017, The Eleventh JN Memorial Lecture by Prof Vivian Taam Wong, Honorary Professor, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, entitled “Chinese Medicine: A Journey Through the Ages”.


23 March 2018, The Twelfth JN Memorial Lecture by Professor Martin K. Jones, George Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science, Vice-Master of Darwin College, University of Cambridge, Chairman, Needham Research Institute, entitled

“Food Globalization in Prehistory”.


The series, impacted by the local social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2019- 20, has resumed in 2023.

25 March 2023, the Thirteenth JN Memorial Lecture by Prof. Lee Chack Fan, Prof. Imre Galambos, and Prof. John Steele was successfully held at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, covering titles such as 'The Pprocess of Learning and Surpassing in the Advancement of Science and Civilisations', 'Technologies of the Book in Dunhuang during the 9th and 10th Centuries', as well as 'Babylonian and Chinese Astronomy: Comparison, Circulation, and Dialogue'

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