Organized Panel Session
This panel examines ways in which knowledge concerning specific events in seventeenth-century China was produced, transferred, and circulated across and beyond East Asia. The seventeenth century witnessed the rise of new powers, the fall of past empires, the introduction of new strategies, and meetings between people from across the globe. With the emergence of global trade systems and advancements in long-distance communication, the period is often characterized as an era of increasing global interconnectivity. One outcome of such interconnectivity was the growing demand for reports about “current affairs”. Remarkable geopolitical changes in China — such as the Manchu conquest of the Ming — raised regional attention and became the subject of various discussions in East Asia and beyond. Such discussions rested on the availability, reliability and timeliness of reports.
By addressing a series of concrete case-studies, this panel explores both methodological and theoretical aspects in the production and distribution of China-centered current-affairs knowledge. These will include the following themes and questions: What was regarded as “current affairs” during the seventeenth century? What were the identity and agenda of major contributors to and agents-of-circulation of such reports and what induced them? What were the mechanisms that enabled the circulation of current-affairs knowledge? How was this knowledge used and what was its impact? How and why did current-affairs knowledge change across time and space? The panel will consider these questions in a comparative border-crossing discussion, with the hope of generating new conceptual ground for understanding this aspect of the interconnected seventeenth century.