A new UGC-funded project:

Connected Cartographies: World Maps in Translation between China, Inner Asia and Early Modern Europe

Principal Investigator: Florin-Stefan Morar

The relations between China and the West are currently receiving extensive global attention. Yet, the history of these relations is much deeper, dating back to the root of modernity. Most notably, this history is defined not only by politics and economics, but also by substantial cultural contact and exchange. The proposed project will examine some of the earliest cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West with a focus on maps, particularly maps of the world. World maps are significant for the history of Sino-Western cross-cultural contact, as they were some of the earliest items to be translated across: in Europe atlases such as the Guang Yutu 廣輿圖 by Zhu Siben, in various forms, were the source of representations of China for much of the early modern period up to the 19th century; in China world maps such as those produced by Matteo Ricci were the first cartographic works representing distant lands beyond Asia, introducing terminologies of world geography that are still in use today. The project will argue that these two processes of translation are inter-connected and represent two aspects of one phenomenon of hybridization of divergent Eurasian vocabularies and techniques of cartography. Using new methodologies from global history, translation studies, and the history of science, the project will position translation as a key means by which to understand the long history of cross-cultural contact. To accomplish its aim, the project proposes to sequentially trace case studies of cartographic translation from the first instances of globalization in the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The proposed research will have manifold implications in terms of understanding mutual representations of China and the West. Project outcomes will include both a book-length monograph for publication by a major North American or UK university press and a website with enhanced data on key cartographic materials.