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New article on "Mapping Continents, Inhabited Quarters and The Four Seas"

Jan 23, 2019

Prof. Klaus Oschema and Dr. Christoph Mauntel, former associate members of the Cluster “Asia and Europe”, published an article in the Journal of Transcultural Medieval Studies. They co-edited the paper “Mapping Continents, Inhabited Quarters and The Four Seas” with Dr. Martin Hofmann, assistant professor of Intellectual History at the HCTS, and Jean-Charles Ducène.

The article “Mapping Continents, Inhabited Quarters and The Four Seas. Divisions of the World and the Ordering of Spaces in Latin-Christian, Arabic-Islamic and Chinese Cartography in the Twelfth to Sixteenth Centuries. A Critical Survey and Analysis” explores the presence and development of large-scale geographic categories in pre-modern cartography – twelfth to sixteenth centuries – in a combination of comparative and transcultural perspectives. Analyzing Latin-Christian, Arabic-Islamic and Chinese maps, the authors demonstrate the varying degrees of importance accorded to large-scale geographic structures.

For example, while the examined Chinese material concentrates on a geographical space that was perceived to form an ideal political and cultural unity focusing on the Chinese Empire as the centre of the relevant world, Latin-Christian and Arabic-Islamic traditions share the focus on the whole “oecumene” that they both inherited from antique models. Especially important for the Latin-Christian tradition was the notion of the continents, depicted in many maps.

The article is the result a workshop that was conducted in the scope of Cluster project A27: “World Orders in Transcultural Perspective: Pre-modern Concepts of Continents and Empire.” The project focused on the mutual relations, changes, and influences between spatial meta-categories like ‘Continent’ and ‘Empire’ in the pre-modern period.

Prof. Klaus Oschema is leading the Chair of Medieval Studies “Geschichte des Mittelalters unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des späten Mittelalters“ at the Ruhr-University Bochum. His research focuses on the late medieval history of France and of neighboring countries as well as on notions and ideas of ‘Europe’. 

Dr. Christoph Mauntel works for the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He currently works on a book on the concept of continents in the Middle Ages.

Dr. Martin Hofmann is assistant professor with the Professorship of Intellectual History at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, where he currently researches cartography and the text-image relation in late imperial China.

Jean-Charles Ducène is directeur d'études of the section of historical and philological sciences at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris.

The new Journal of Transcultural Medieval Studies aims at providing a forum for scholarship of pre-modern times. It publishes comparative studies, which systematically reflect the entanglement and the interconnection of European, African, Asian and American cultures. The Journal also intends to foster methodological reflections on transculturality in the broad sense.


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