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Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 13:06:59 -0500
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>
From: "Leibo, Steven A." <leibo@cnsvax.albany.edu>
Subject: H-ASIA:Q: 17th-19th century Asian conceptions of political geography

17th-19th century Asian conceptions of political geography

A dialog from H-Asia list
12 January 1999

From: Wolfgang Hoeschele <whoesch@truman.edu>

Wolfgang Hoeschele, Truman State University
Q: 17th to 19th century Asian conceptions of political geography

I am teaching a course on political geography this semester. Political geography is not my specialty, but in a university with only two geographers, we are forced to go outside of our specialties in teaching some of our courses.

As I read in preparation for this course, I found that the political geography literature is more Eurocentric than most other literatures in geography - usually taking for granted that modern political ideas evolved from post-1648 Europe, that the Treaty of Westfalia first established how a set of states might establish some sort of cooperative method of coexisting, etc.

As a South Asianist opposed to excessively parochial representations of the world, I would like to present my students with a somewhat broader perspective. However, regarding 19th-century or earlier Asian conceptions of political geography, I know little more than the standard interpretations of the Arthasastra (alternating concentric rings of enemy and ally states) and of the Chinese conception of being at the center of the world, with declining levels of civilization with increasing distance from China. I would suspect that in the real world, such conceptions were not applied so strictly, and that there was some debate about how competing states should deal with each other. Could any members of the list suggest literature on such topics of historical political geography, for any part of Asia, including the Islamic world? I will greatly appreciate any suggestions.

Wolfgang Hoeschele
Assistant Professor of Geography
Division of Social Science
Truman State University
100 East Normal
Kirksville, MO 63501-4221

15 January 1999
From: Miriam Sharma <sharma@hawaii.edu>

Regarding texts that critique eurocentrism in geographic representations of the world, you may like to look at:

J.M. Blaunt, _The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History_ (1993) and 1942; the debate on colonialism, Eurocentrisism and History (1992)

Martin W. Leis and Karen E. Wigen, _The Myth of Continents: A critique of metageography_ (1997)

Andre Gunder Frank, "The Centrality of Central Asia," in _Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars_ (24:50-74, 80-82), 1992

Stuart Schwartz, ed. _Implicit Understandings: Observing, Reporting, and Reflecting on the Encounters between Europeans and Other Peoples in the Early Modern Era_ (1994)

Stefan Tanaka, _Japan's Orient: Rendering Pasts into History_ (1993)

Winichakul Thongchai, _Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation_ (1994)

Harold R. Isaacs, _Scratches on Our Minds: American Views of China and India_ (1958)

Mimi Sharma
Asian Studies Program
University of Hawaii

From: Gene Cooper <eugeneco@rcf.usc.edu>

I should think that Gundar Frank's new book __Reorient__[?] might be useful on the political geography of Asia.

Back in the ozone,

Gene Cooper

Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 19:57:31 -0500Mbr> From: Ravi Arvind Palat <r.palat@auckland.ac.nz>

A good starting point for Asian conceptions of political geography is Thonghchai Winichakul, _Siam mapped: a history of the geo-body of a nation_, Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1994. For early medieval India, see also Y. Subbarayalu, _Political Geography of the Chola Country_, Madras: State Department of Archaeology, 1973

Ravi Arvind Palat
Senior lecturer in sociology
University of Auckland

25 January 1999
From: Gordonstu@aol.com

For Western India in the eighteenth century, one of the the most central texts of political geography would be the Ajnapatra. It is dated 1715 though there is internal evidence that it was probably written a decade earlier. The author was an elder statesman of the Maratha kingdom and the text was written as &mirror-of-princes& advice to a young ruler. Of the nine sections, all but two are what we might call political geography. The many topics dicsussed include the central position of forts, the importance of the navy, how to disperse competing elite houses, and where to position traders. Incidentally, the author was fully aware of how the European traders differed from other indigeous and foreign traders in that they &represented kings&. European traders were, therefore, never to be granted land. The text was translated many years ago by S.V. Puntambekar and is available in Journal of Indian History, VII (April, 1929) and Journal of Indian History, VIII (August, 1929).

Stewart Gordon,
Independent Scholar

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