MRI Forum 36

"The Perception of Maritime Space in Song, Yuan and Ming Sources"

by Roderich Ptak

Summary of the Presentation

Traditional Chinese sources refer to different oceans and sea routes connecting South China to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean world. The underlying spatial concepts have varied from one period to the next. A major development can be detected under the Song, when the eastern sea route began to emerge in written sources. This eventually led to the idea of a “Western Ocean” and an “Eastern Ocean”, both with subordinate units. The boundary between these worlds and several adjacent spaces was further elaborated in certain lishi dili texts, so-called leishu works, nautical literature and maps.

The speaker will present important sources, one by one, discussing different concepts of space, and how these concepts can possibly be linked to political and other dimensions. An attempt will also be made at relating such ideas to the “Mediterranean” theme, in the Braudelian—or quasi-Braudelian—sense.

Profile of the Speaker

Roderich Ptak ( 葡萄鬼 )—a German citizen—attended schools in Portugal and Germany and received his university education in Heidelberg, Beijing, Shenyang and Guelph (Canada). He attained various scholarships and the following degrees: M.A. (Economics), Dr. phil. (Sinology), habilitation degree (Sinology). He was a Heisenberg scholar, then professor, first at the University of Heidelberg, thereafter in Mainz / Germersheim. Since 1994 he holds a chair of Chinese Studies in Munich. Meanwhile he has been teaching in Marburg, Paris, Lisbon and Macau. His list of publications comprises books and articles in German, English and Portuguese (see under, mainly on maritime China and Southeast Asia, on Macau, and on traditional and colloquial Chinese literature.