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Plotting Maps, Making History: Sino-European Cartographic Exchange & the Global Integration of Space

A talk by Dr. Laura Hostetler, Professor, History Department, University of Illinois at Chicago

Thursday, April 10, 2014 • 5:00 PM
USF Fromm Hall, Maraschi Room, University of San Francisco

This illustrated talk explores the mapping of the Qing Empire of China as an important collaborative effort in the history of science. During the course of the early modern period mapmaking changed radically. The Age of Discovery prompted Europeans to chart the globe, representing their own localities in relation to the larger world. Chinese views of their place in the world also began to shift profoundly during the early modern period. Beginning with Matteo Ricci’s World Map in Chinese (c. 1600), planispheric geometry based on measurements of latitude and longitude led Chinese scholars to see and sometimes represent their place in the world in new ways. In this talk, Laura Hostetler demonstrates that just as European maps of China relied on indigenous Chinese knowledge, Chinese maps of the empire drew on technologies and practitioners introduced from the West.

Moderated by Fr. M. Antoni J. Üçerler, S.J., Director of Research, Associate Professor,
USF Center for the Pacific Rim.

Guest Commentator: Kären Wigen, Professor, Chair, History Dept, Stanford University

Free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Ricci Institute at 415-422-6401 or by email

Cosponsored by California Map Society. Funded in part by the USF Jesuit Foundation.


Traduttore, Traditore: The Jesuit Construction of Science via Translation in Ming-Qing China, 1600-1800
A talk by Professor Benjamin Elman, East Asian Studies and History Department, Princeton University

Thursday, March 6, 2014 • 5:00 PM
USF Fromm Hall, Berman Room, University of San Francisco
(Watch a VIDEO of this talk)

When Europeans reached China during the age of exploration, they encountered different scientific explanations for natural phenomena. European scientia, represented by the specialized branches of Aristotelian moral and natural philosophy, encountered in China the naturalistic concepts of yin-yang, qi, and the classical ideal of the six arts.

This lecture will examine early modern scientific texts translated jointly by Christian missionaries and Chinese literati. These translations were not simply byproducts of the missionary enterprise, but texts encoded with Christian messages and religiously-induced silences written in classical Chinese. The focus is not on translation as a futile exercise in philosophical incommensurability, but on the use of Christian beliefs in scientific textbooks translated into Chinese.

Discussion facilitator: Dr. Mark Miller, Assistant Professor, St. Ignatius Institute, University of San Francisco

Free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Ricci Institute at 415-422-6401 or by email

Co-sponsored by the USF St. Ignatius Institute. Funded in part by the USF Jesuit Foundation

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