Where Is China?: The Cartography of National Humiliation

William A. Callahan

in China

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549955
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720314 | DOI:
Where Is China?: The Cartography of National Humiliation

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Answers the question “Where is China?” through a critical examination of Chinese maps of China. It considers how these maps are more than scientific reflections of China's sovereign territory. Rather than showing where China is, they reflect debates among Chinese intellectuals about where China should be: many maps include territories that are not under state control – but should be. These maps do much more than celebrate the extent of Chinese sovereignty; they also mourn the loss of national territories through a cartography of national humiliation. The maps thus show that China's borders are neither obvious nor fixed; they are contingent on historical events and are framed by cartographic conventions. The chapter's goal thus is not to determine China's correct boundaries in legal discourse or geopolitical space. Rather, it examines what Chinese maps of China can tell us about their hopes and fears, not only in the past or present but also for the future. By answering the question “Where is China?” it examines how China's image of itself interacts with its image of the world.

Keywords: Geobody; lost territories; cartography; maps; identity politics

Chapter.  9782 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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