GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2014, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (3): 589-600.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201403017

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The analysis of Chinese geographical history research path:From science history to intellectual history and the shift of geographical traditions

SUN Jun1,2, PAN Yujun1,3, TANG Maolin4   

  1. 1. College of Tourism and Geographical Sciences, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China;
    2. College of Social Development, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China;
    3. Key Laboratory of Educational Information for Nationalities, Ministry of Education, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming 650500, China;
    4. School of Geographical Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2012-06-15 Revised:2012-08-14 Online:2014-03-10 Published:2014-03-10

Abstract: Modern Chinese geographical disciplinary system has been established by introducing Anglophone geography. Such a situation impels historians to focus on the progress of knowledge, theory and disciplinary system in ancient China, and the progress of these contributions can be divided into two main phases. During the science history research stage from the 1940s to the 1980s, Wang Yong, a Chinese geographical historian, carded the basic geographical knowledge, but he concluded that there was not a discipline of geography in ancient China. On the contrary, Hou Renzhi, Wang Chengzu, Ju Jiwu, Yu Xixian et al., and a team of geoscience from the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences believed that there was a discipline of geography in ancient China, and they discussed disciplinary meta-questions such as object, content, theory, and system etc. After the 1980s, serial works about geographical thought history were published by geographical historians Zhou Chunti, Yang Wuyang, Wang Hongwen, Liu Shengjia, Zhao Rong, Pan Yijun and Wang Aimin, and they described the progress of geographical concept, assumptions, experiment, law, proposition, theory, method, research paradigm in China, and tried to card and foresee the key issues in geographical thought. From Dynastic Geography to Historical Geography: A Change in Perspective towards the Geographical Past of China is an original work which discovers that the primary characteristic of Chinese ancient geography was a distinct humanistic concern reflected in its research content and methodology. According to these works, we discuss the shift of geographical tradition in China: before the Christian era, there was a tradition of investigated and researched nature, and Chinese scholars kept a watchful eye on the human world; after the Christian era, much attention was paid to the human world, and the tradition of investigated and researched nature was reduced; since the 1950s, there has been a strong original relationship between Chinese and Anglophone geography.

Key words: Chinese geographical history, science history, intellectual history, dynastic geography, Chinese geographical tradition, Anglophone geographical tradition