Workshop: Typologies of East Asian Maps in a Global Perspective
Wann: Fr, 02.12.2022, 12:00 Uhr bis Sa, 03.12.2022, 16:15 Uhr
The aim of this workshop is to discuss some methodological approaches to developing a clearly articulated typology of East Asian maps, which is still missing.
The extant research literature tends to distinguish between two major mapping traditions: ‘Western and scientific’ (i.e. based on advanced techniques of cartographic survey) and ‘Chinese and traditional’ (i.e. stemming from autochthonous cartography). The major drawback of this distinction is that it ignores the multifarious character of the Chinese cartographic tradition, which has at least two major sub-traditions. Following the pioneering studies of the recognised American-Taiwanese geographer Hsu Mei-ling 徐美玲 (1932–2009), Cordell Yee, author of the latest reference study of the history of Chinese cartography (1994), labelled them as ‘analytical/mathematical’ versus ‘descriptive’.
We propose to re-evaluate these distinctions and to consider other classifications of East Asian maps in the context of the global history of cartography. In particular, we would like to further develop the approach initiated by Joseph Needham and Wang Ling 王鈴 (1959), who systematically investigated Chinese maps in comparison with other cartographical traditions. This global approach has since been pushed back by a tendency to narrow specialisation in map studies; in the case of East Asian maps, the complexity of sinographic writing reinforces this tendency to take isolated views.
Diversity of cartographic traditions is not unique to East Asia. For instance, the history of European cartography distinguishes between mappaemundi relying on the Biblical conceptions of terrestrial space, and two incompatible traditions of ‘scientific cartography’ – maps rooted in Ptolemaic geography and early modern nautical charts (Gaspar Alves and Leitão, 2019). The interesting difference between East Asian and European cartography is that while mappaemundi and the early modern charts gradually left the cartographic scene, pre-modern types of East Asian maps continued to be produced and reproduced well up to the 20th century.
Joint efforts of historians of European and Asian cartographies take the same direction – working out a typology of maps that can provide a solid methodological basis for their studies. With this workshop, we want to contribute to these efforts.