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Journal Article

Locating the Sea: A Visual and Social Analysis of Coastal Gazetteers in Late Imperial China


Molenaar,  Sander
Department Artifacts, Action, Knowledge, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Molenaar, S. (2022). Locating the Sea: A Visual and Social Analysis of Coastal Gazetteers in Late Imperial China. Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, 3, 37-57. doi:10.25365/jeacs.2022.3.molenaar.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-BEA1-8
Local gazetteers were important tools for local government in late imperial China as they helped officials familiarize themselves with their jurisdiction. Local gazetteers are also valuable historical sources for the study of state and society in late imperial China, but the reading of local gazetteers as historical sources requires careful examination of the process by which knowledge in local gazetteers was produced. Officials and local literati who collaborated in the compilation of gazetteers negotiated between the need for an accurate administrative tool and the desire to represent their locality on a supra-local stage. This negotiation informed decisions around the inclusion or exclusion of content. Agriculture and Confucian education were key aspects of the social order that benefited literati, and were therefore dominant elements in local gazetteers. Along the coasts of late imperial China, however, maritime interests competed with agriculture for influence in local society. This article examines the inclusion or exclusion of local forms of maritime knowledge in gazetteers from coastal counties to gain a better understanding of the process by which knowledge was produced. Moreover, while individual literati showed interest in the maritime world, the question remains to what extent such interests found their way into gazetteers. This article applies collective analysis to visual representations of coastlines to examine their role in the construction of maritime knowledge in the genre of local gazetteers as a whole.中國明清時期,地方志是幫助地方官員瞭解轄區的重要工具,也是研究國家和社會寶貴的歷史資料。若用作歷史資料則需仔細研究其內容的生成過程。合作編纂地方志的官員和地方文人通常要在對有效行政工具的需求與向上級表達地方訴求之間進行權衡,對收錄的內容進行篩選。農業和儒家教統是建立一套有利於文人的社會秩序的關鍵,因而成為地方志的主導內容。然而明清時期的沿海地區,海岸經濟開始與傳統農業爭奪在當地的影響力。為了瞭解相關知識的構建過程,本文考察了沿海郡縣地方志中對當地海岸知識的收錄與排斥。雖然個別文人對沿海海域表現出興趣,但這種興趣多大程度上體現在地方志中尚待厘清。爲了研究方志中構建的海岸知識與海岸線的相關性,本文對海岸線的視覺表徵進行了集體性分析