technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Exhibition as a form of knowledge: gazetteers & communal network in 19th century China


science & technology studies



In 1886,a technical gazetteer on Tibetan lands, Tukao of Tibet, was published by a Chinese official stationed in a western Chinese province adjacent to the Tibetan lands. The gazetteer reveals a Chinese community exchanging ideas, conversations, maps and techniques. More than the emergence of an ethno-science on geography, it forces us to re-think the knowledge community. The boundary-work challenges a Kuhnian idea of knowledge community. The boundary can be traced in concrete tasks: 1, who can legitimately speak on gazetteers? 2, how can this knowledge be articulated (Hacking, 1992)? The self-evident categories of amateurs / experts and scientists/ non-scientists break down in Tukao. Poets and surveyors paralleled, officials and trivial merchants juxtaposed; their heterogeneous articulations were displayed. The imperial Chinese gazetteer offers a space for exhibiting, and another way of assembling the knowledge community.


Transcript English (automatic)

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