The Age of Explorations I

Elisabeth Kaske (Leipzig U & SFB 1199) & Elisabeth Köll (U Notre Dame)

Chiang Kai Shek and staff during Sino-Japanese War, June 1938 (Encyclopædia Britannica, public domain;

International Workshop, Part 1

In the nineteenth century, Western explorers like Ferdinand von Richthofen had crisscrossed Chinese territory to explore coal deposits or scout potential railway routes. Asymmetries between China literati-officials and the Western powers became increasingly evident not only in the realm of world knowledge, but in the knowledge of China itself. By the twentieth century, a new generation of Chinese administrators, engineers, and scientists, often but not always organized by the government, began to follow in the footsteps of these early Western explorers to rediscover China in their efforts to build modern infrastructure and exploit natural resources. In other cases, compilers collected and systematized local knowledge to be passed up the administrative hierarchy. These projects not only helped to define the extent of Chinese territory, but also created new institutionalized knowledge about China’s geobody itself. They not only conquered China’s internal and external peripheries, but also redefined centrality and created new peripheries, namely those less connected by national plans.

The spatial reordering of China in the first half of the twentieth century is the topic of a planned edited volume and bipartite workshop co-organized by project A06 “Chinese Engineers and their Spatial Imaginations: Architects of an Interconnected Nation, 1906-1937” and Elisabeth Köll, University of Notre Dame.

Draft Workshop (Online), 12.03. – 14.03.2021

To accommodate the time difference between USA, Germany, and Taiwan, the workshop will take place 1-3 pm. The workshop is not public.

Author Workshop (in person), 17.-21.08.2021

The author workshop will take place in August, if travel has resumed, or Dec. 16–18, if not. This workshop will be public.

Part 1: Communication, Infrastructure, and National Space (12.03.):

Weipin Tsai (Royal Holloway, U London), “Postal Maps and the Making of National Space in the Early 20th Century China”

Elisabeth Köll (U Notre Dame), “Mapping, Marking, and Competing: Local, Regional, and Central Claims to Railroad Space in pre-1949 China”

Elisabeth Kaske (Leipzig U), “The Nationalist Party Roadshow: Highways, War, and National Space in China’s Southwest”

Thorben Pelzer (Leipzig U), “Opening up the Borderlands: Infrastructural Surveying and Ethnography in the Northwest, 1943”

Ying Jia Tan (Wesleyan U), “Power for Power’s Sake: The Rise and Fall of the People’s Electrification Campaign, 1958–”

Part 2: Nature, Resources, and the Nation (13. 03.)

Hailian Chen (Leipzig U, Trier U), “Bring the Secret Wealth to Light: China’s Geological Survey Institutes and the Openness of Modern Geoscientific Knowledge on Mining and Mineral Resources (c. 1850–1949)”

Lin-chun Wu (National Taiwan U), “‘Oil Dream:’ Chinese Geologists, Petroleum, Infrastructure and National Building, 1920s–1949”

Iwo Amelung (U Frankfurt), “Meteorological expeditions in Republican China: Observations on Mount Emei and Mount Tai during the International Polar Year 1932/33”

Shellen Xiao Wu (U Tennessee), “Planting the Seeds of the Nation”

Julia Marinaccio (B University, Norway), “Liang Xi and the Promotion of Forestry Education: Visions of Early State Development”

Part 3: General discussion (14.03.)

Discussant: Anne Reinhardt (Williams College)