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Writing the waves: Chinese maritime writings in the long eighteenth century

Po, Ronald C. ORCID: 0000-0002-9678-0536 (2015) Writing the waves: Chinese maritime writings in the long eighteenth century. American Journal of Chinese Studies, 22 (2). pp. 343-362. ISSN 2166-0042

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This article examines the works of three maritime writers: Chen Lunjiong (?-1751), Wang Dahai, and Xie Qinggao (1765-1821). Unlike the literary texts that depicted the sea as a poetic trope or mysterious sphere full of mythical fantasies, maritime writings in the high Qing or long eighteenth century (ca. 1683-1839) invariably reflected a sense of the physical and cultural geography of the empire's maritime frontier and its impact on littoral societies and coastal defence. Compared to earlier maritime writings, these works introduced new ways of looking at the political, economic, and social conditions in coastal regions and the spaces that affected sea trade and military strategies. Surprisingly, despite their considerable contributions to the conceptualization of sea space, most of their writings have not been studied sufficiently by Chinese and western historians. One of the reasons for this, I suspect, is the focus on inland frontier regions among geo-historians during the early and high Qing. By analyzing how Chen Lunjiong, Wang Dahai, and Xie Qinggao conceived of maritime space, I believe we can understand the significant contributions they made to geo-historical scholarship. It can also enable us to understand how the Qing's intellectual and cultural borders expanded to incorporate the wider maritime world.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 American Association of Chinese Studies
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2018 16:05
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2021 23:11

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