China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Cartography has long served to construct cultural identity and legitimize political claims. During China’s Ming and Qing dynasties, a variety of agents created spatial images of the realm at both imperial and local levels so as to promote dynastic, commercial, and private interests. By examining Ming and Qing cartographic practices, this panel explores the issues about cultural meanings and power relations, the relationship between “China/Zhongguo” and the imperial states, and the sources of cartographic technology. At the imperial level, Yonglin Jiang studies the “Zhongguo-barbarian distinction” in Ming maps, and argues for separate identities of Zhongguo and the Ming empire. From a local perspective, Ken Hammond explores the late Ming images of urban places in local gazetteers and deciphers the conceptions and representations of urban communities and the relationships of power and political legitimacy. By focusing on the adoption of longitude-latitude coordinate in the Qing, Xue Zhang looks at the Manchu strategy of making the Western technology part of Chinese knowledge system. Chris Eirkson not only traces the changes in the depiction of frontier zones in Ming maps, but, more broadly, questions the validity of the “empire” discourse in scholarly inquiries, thus contributing to a theoretical debate over the nature of both Ming and Qing “empires.” Together, these four papers enrich our understanding of the role of cartography in the construction of cultural identity in Ming and Qing times.