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Late 17th Century Qing Expansionism and the Imperial Push for a New Cartographic Practice

Sun, June 26, 10:30am to 12:20pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 107


This paper discusses the establishment of a new cartographic practice in the context of Qing expansionism and frontier management during the last two decades of the 18th century. This new cartographic practice integrated the more instrumental and geometric aspects of cartographic practice as practiced by the French Académie des sciences into the cartographic practices inherited by the Qing court. I will revisit these events in three steps. First, I will show how the Kangxi emperor (r.1661-1722) personally started experimenting with European techniques of mapmaking in the 1670s, closely assisted by his Jesuit tutor Ferdinand Verbiest (1623-1688). Next, I will discuss continued imperial interest in the improved cartographic practices developed by the French Académie des sciences, which reached the Qing court in the years after 1688 through the agency of French Jesuit missionaries. Finally, I show how certain aspects of this new cartographic practice were slowly integrated into the Qing court’s preexisting cartographic practices, in the context of Qing expansion into Khalka territory during the 1690s. In all, this paper puts forward an example of the development of the sciences as a result of empire building in Asia.