The Ricci Insitute for Chinese-Western Cultural History at Boston College is an internationally renowned research center for the study of Chinese-Western cultural exchange.
What We Do
With a focus on the Jesuit missions of the 16th–19th centuries and the history of Christianity in China and East Asia, the Institute supports research on a diverse range of interests:
- Chinese and East Asian history and relations with Europe
- the influences of China and Europe on each other
- Eastern and Western religion, culture, and philosophy
- science and technology, including astronomy, cartography, and medicine
Visiting scholars from around the world meet here to examine these and many other topics in languages ranging fromLatin, Portuguese, Italian, French, and Spanish to Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Manchu. We regularly host meetings, symposia, conferences, and workshops, and every summer our visiting scholars and research fellows-in-residence speak at our weekly seminars on their topic of study.
We provide scholars with timely and high-quality service for their research and academic collaborations with other colleagues and institutions. Whether you're a graduate student or a faculty member continuing your research, we offer our entire library and scholarly network to you.
The Ricci Institute was founded at the University of San Francisco in 1984 by Fr. Edward J. Malatesta, S.J. (1932-1998), Theodore N. Foss, Ph.D. (born 1950), and Sr. Mary Celeste Rouleau, R.S.M. (1926-2008).
The Institute traces its origins to Fr. Francis Rouleau, S.J. (1901-1984), who taught at the Jesuit Theologate in Shanghai and lived in China from 1929 until 1952. Fr. Rouleau, along with Fr. Thomas Carroll, S.J., had for many years collected and studied materials on early Sino-Western cultural contacts at the Sacred Heart Center in Los Gatos and originally called their endeavor the Sino-Jesuit History Project, with a focus on the Chinese Rites Controversy. After the untimely death of Fr. Carroll, Fr. Edward Malatesta joined Fr. Rouleau to continue the project. Fr. Rouleau’s niece, Sr. Mary Celeste Rouleau, also joined the project as archivist.
In 1982 Fr. Malatesta secured offices at the University of San Francisco’s Lone Mountain Campus and the project archives were moved to the new location. Dr. Theodore N. Foss, Ph.D, joined the team and brought his personal archives to enhance the collection.
The day after Fr. Rouleau's death in 1984, Fr. Malatesta, Dr. Foss, and Sr. Celeste founded the Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History (ICWCH) with the intention of continuing and broadening the long Jesuit tradition of Sinological research. This aim was greatly facilitated by the arrival of the Chinese Library of the Society of Jesus (Bibliotheca Sinensis Societatis Iesu) in 1985, which had been compiled in Hong Kong over many years by the Chinese-Peruvian Jesuit, Fr. Albert Chan, S.J., a Harvard-trained historian of China’s Ming dynasty.
As the Institute grew and worldwide scholarly interest in the field dramatically increased, in 1990 the name was officially changed to the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History, better reflecting our approach to research and our international connections with students, scholars, and academic institutions.
The Ricci Institute relocated to Boston College in the fall of 2021, with a view to expanding its outreach to graduate students and senior researchers.
The Ricci Institute will open at the Creagh Library building at 2125 Commonwealth Avenue, on Boston College’s Brighton Campus by early spring 2022. For further updates, please visit this page again in the coming months.