Broadly speaking, I study translation among words, individuals, materials, and bodies. I think a lot about how historians create their objects, and what the consequences of a more dynamic understanding of materiality and the ontology of objects might be for practicing the art of history (broadly) and writing histories of translated and multiple objects (specifically).
My first book, The Monkey and the Inkpot: Natural History and its Transformations in Early Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2009), was a study of belief-making in early modern Chinese natural history through the lens of the Bencao gangmu (1596), a compendium of materia medica. My work right now is focused on trying to understand identification, equivalence, sameness, and individuation as historical processes. I’m doing this in one book project by excavating the peoples and practices of official translation bureaus in Ming and Qing China, and I’m especially interested in dictionaries and glossaries as literary texts. In another research project I’m looking more specifically at the translation of the natural world (and images and descriptions thereof) in the Qing, with a focus on Manchu texts. In a final very-long-term project, I’m honing in on practices of resemblance and translation in the context of medieval and early modern Chinese-Arabic-Persian exchange.
I also host the podcast channels New Books in East Asian Studies (NBEAS) and New Books in Science, Technology, and Society (NBSTS). You can find links to my interviews for those channels here.
For a cv with a list of publications, and for links to other short pieces and ongoing projects, head over to my website at www.carlanappi.com
Carla Nappi, Department of History
Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor (B.A., M.A. Harvard, M.A., Ph.D. Princeton)
Office: Buchanan Tower 1109
Telephone: (732) 503-8756