China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: Perhaps no other place on the East Asian continent has seen as dramatic change in historical perceptions as the southern coastal region, Lingnan. Regarded as a barbaric, miasmal periphery by elite writers from the Yellow or Yangzi River basins from early times on, by the ninth century the southern littoral began to be prized for its seaports, natural resources, and access to the trade in luxuries from west and south Asia. This panel explores evolving perceptions of Lingnan, focusing on representations of the maritime world that highlight the historical tensions between representing this seacoast as a border to understanding it as a contact zone in discourses across pharmaceutical manuals, tour guides, maps, and records of oceanic trade.
First, Chen examines how aromatics imported to Guangzhou shaped medical discourses in the Song and investigates the material dimensions of agarwood in healing cultures. Next, Ridgway demonstrates how the geo-poetic urban tour guide of Guangzhou’s ancient sites by Song literatus Fang Xinru is wrought by contradictions between perceptions of Guangdong as continental border and as trade port. Third, Shutz documents the increasing articulation of the island Nan’ao in maps and paintings from the Ming and Qing, relating this greater knowledge of maritime space to both private and state projects. Finally, Papelitzky studies Guangdong’s connection with Southeast Asia by analyzing the Ming text Words of the Sea and Ming and Qing provincial gazetteers from Guangdong, revealing the pivotal role native scholars played in accounts of Guangdong as part of an oceanic network.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Benjamin B. Ridgway – Swarthmore College
Virtual Paper Presenter: Ruth Yun-ju Chen – Academia Sinica
Virtual Paper Presenter: Joe Shutz – State University of New York, Binghamton
Virtual Paper Presenter: Elke Papelitzky – KU Leuven