Book Project:



The Archipelago 

There are three ways to perceive an island chain.

1. If seen from above—a perspective that world maps and globes attempt to simulate—islands appear irretrievably separate and isolated from one another.

2. The same idea of separation is also present if you descend like a traveler to the surface, except that now, as you move, you experience each domain in sequence: land - water - land, and again water.

3. However, if you take a ride in a submarine, or perhaps a diving bell, your perspective will suddenly change. Now, you could perceive that the separation is only an illusion. What from above appeared as islands are indeed the tips of a deeply interconnected mountain chain.

The image of the archipelago describes the form of the early modern world, both in terms of geographical and cultural differences. With the benefit of historical distance, and looking from above, one can almost be certain of the neatly distinct profile of cultures and ways of being, of knowing, and of making knowledge in places such as China, Europe, the Islamicate Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. At surface level, one will encounter, as many early modern travelers did, both continuities and immense gaps between these places. But the deeper one goes under the surface, the connections still persist, even though with depth there is less sunlight to make them manifest.

World Geography in Sino-Western Encounters

The book examines cartography and map making. It challenges the idea that exploration was the only means of creating spatial knowledge in the early modern period. The book argues that the trans-Eurasian translation of knowledge and the blending and hybridization of European (Ptolemaic) and Chinese cartographic techniques was a second important way for the creation and growth of such knowledge.

︎Connected Cartographies

Is a monograph on the translation of cartographic knowledge between China and the West in the age of first contacts. The book is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press and is expected to appear in 2025

The relations between China and the West are currently receiving extensive global attention. Yet,the history of these relations is much deeper, dating back to the root of modernity. Most notably, this history is defined not only by politics and economics, but also by substantial cultural contact and exchange.

The book examines some of the earliest cross-cultural exchanges between China and the West with a focus on maps, particularly maps of the world. World maps are significant for the history of Sino-Western cross-cultural contact, as they were some o the earliest items to be translated across: in Europe atlases such as the Guang Yutu 廣輿圖 by Zhu Siben, in various forms, were the source of representations of China for much of the early modern period up to the 19th century; in China world maps such as those produced by Matteo Ricci were the first cartographic works representing distant lands beyond Asia, introducing terminologies of world geography that are still in use today. The book will argue that these two processes of translation are inter-connected and represent two aspects of one phenomeno of hybridization of divergent Eurasian vocabularies and techniques of cartography.

Using new methodologies from global history, translation studies, and the history of science, the book will position translation as a key means by which to understand the long history of cross-cultural contact. The book traces case studies of cartographic translation from the first instances of globalization in the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.