Chinese Studies Public Lecture

February 20, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Moore Hall 202 Add to Calendar

Thursday, February 20, 12:00 noon
Moore Hall 202

XU Dongfeng, Visiting Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature, Dept. of East Asian Languages & Literatures, UHM

“Situating the Middle Kingdom: Matteo Ricci's World Map, the Wobbling Center and the Undoing of the Host”

Abstract: This paper forms a part of a longer project that discusses the late Ming Confucian reception of or hospitality to the Jesuits.

Around the year 1584, following the suggestion and request from Wang Pan (王泮), the then Prefect of Zhaoqing (肇慶), Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) drew a world map in Chinese. This map, ultimately known as “Complete Map of All Ten Thousand Countries on Earth” (坤輿萬國全圖), not only turned out to be an extremely popular item at the time, but also became a handy proof often used by later scholars to evidence Ricci’s introduction of modern European science including cartography to the Chinese.

As this paper will argue, Ricci’s world map, with what happened around it, marks off an ideological high ground where the Confucian host and the Jesuit visitor enact some very essence as well as paradox of the types of hospitality discussed by Emmenual Levinas and Jacques Derrida. In the Confucian-Jesuit encounter, the map and the issues circling around it represent some most vigorous and highly complicated cultural negotiations or accommodations, through which both sides would, knowingly or not, cross over back and forth the boundaries that they themselves have set up. Both the Confucians and Jesuits would keep smearing the demarcation of inside and outside, or the distinction between the Self and the Other, or the host and the stranger. Without any doubt, each side would attempt to claim authority over the other—the Confucians with their Sino-centrism while the Jesuits with the map containing new geographic information and cartographical presentation, plus the Catholic faith in the omnipotence of God. Focusing on the impact the map left on the Chinese worldview, the paper hopes to demonstrate how the seemingly closed Ming circle of the Same is more than penetrated and infiltrated by the missionaries. What the map makes manifest first of all are the limits of the Middle Kingdom. And these imperial limitations in turn reiterate the fact that the Middle Kingdom exists and functions in a world where innate heterogeneity grants no stability to the roles of host, stranger or hostage.

About the Speaker: Visiting assistant professor at EALL for 2013-2014, Dongfeng Xu earned his PhD in comparative literature with specialization of literature and religion from the University of Chicago in 2011. His dissertation discusses the China-West encounter that began with the Jesuit missionaries’ arrival in China in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. His research interest includes pre-modern Chinese fiction, traditional Chinese poetry, Confucian thought and comparative studies of cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West. He has taught at the different universities in North America including University of Alberta, Canada and at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Before coming to UHM, he did research for a year as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.

Event Sponsor
Center for Chinese Studies and Confucius Institute at UHM, Mānoa Campus

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