Chen Gazetteers MPIWG

Distribution of the 2,000 local monographs of the dabase Zhongguo Fangzhiku, batch 1 published by Erudition, Beijing. Background map: 1820 China with prefecture boundaries from the China Historical GIS.

Source-Based Initiatives (2013-)

Local Gazetteers

Local gazetteers (difangzhi 地方志) have been major primary sources for the study of China’s local history. About 8,000 titles of local gazetteers dating from the tenth to the nineteenth century are still extant, covering almost all well-populated regions of historical China. The authors of local gazetteers were officials and local gentry who delineated the landscape, flora and fauna, local products, temples and schools, officials and celebrities, local culture and customs, and much more. This project unlocks this treasure chest of local riches by transforming textual formats into a scholarly, enhanced database for new forms of digital historical analysis. A set of digital tools has been developed to help historians to quickly extract data from the digitized text, to store and share the produced data with peers as a new form of academic collaboration, and to apply analysis tools (including GIS maps) on the produced data in order to observe patterns on larger scales. We have started extracting and visualizing information on regional products from 2,000 digital local gazetteers to unravel their role in the historical construction of China’s “local materialities.” In the second phase, the project will facilitate comparison of literary with artefactual and environmental evidence. We are especially interested in exploring how the change of scales—by turning local records from individual gazetteers into a single global database—can reshape the study of historical China. 

 

News & Press

Research Workshop “Chinese Local Gazetteers”—Senior Researchers (Dept. III). 2017

 

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Research Scholar Wilko Graf von Hardenberg publishes interview with Shih-Pei Chen about Chinese local gaz

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Working Groups

Projects

Related Projects

Publications

Shu, C. (2019). Digital humanities and GIS for Chinese architecture: a methodological experiment. In T. Coomans, B. Cattoor, & K. De Jonge (Eds.), Mapping landscapes in transformation: multidisciplinary methods for historical analysis (pp. 301-345). Leuven: Leuven University Press.

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Peng, W., Cheng, H., & Chen, S.-P. (2018). From text to data: extracting posting data from Chinese local gazetteers. 從全文到表格:地方志職官志中職官資料之半自動擷取. Cong quan wen dao biao ge: di fang zhi zhi guan zhi zhong zi liao zhi ban zi dong xie qu. 數位典藏與數位人文. Shu wei dian cang yu shu wei ren wen,1, 79-125. doi:10.6853/DADH.201804_1.0004.

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Dennis, J. (2017). Chinese school libraries book collections database project. In Chinese local chronicles culture going global international symposium on local chronicles culture / 走向世界的中国方志文化国际学术研讨会论文汇编 (pp. 25-57). Beijing: The Office of Chinese Local Chronicles Guidance Group.

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Chen, S.-P. (2016). Remapping Locust Temples of Historical China and the use of GIS (重制陳正祥之蝗神廟分佈圖與淺談 GIS 的使用). Review of Religion and Chinese Society,3(2), 149-163. doi:10.1163/22143955-00302002.

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Chen, S.-P., Hong, Z., Schäfer, D., Siebert, M., & Urzúa, J. (2016). Compiling a database on historical China from local records: the Local Gazetteers Project at MPIWG. In M. Eder, & J. Rybicki (Eds.), Digital Humanities 2016: conference abstracts; Kraków 11–16 July 2016 (pp. 452-455). Kraków: Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University.

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Conference Activities

Kathlene Baldanza

  • "Centring the Margins: Environmental Histories of Yunnan and China’s Southwestern Frontiers," Fudan University, Shanghai, China, May 25, 2018.
  • Southeast Asian Natures Conference, University of California, Riverside, March 12, 2018.

Qun Che

  • "Treating a Genre as a Database: the Chinese Local Gazetteers, the LG tools, and Research Based on this New Digital Methodology," Digital Humanities, August 2017.
  • "Water Conservancy Works as Indicators of Environmental Transformations in the Dongting Lake Region in the Ming-Qing Dynasty," Panel 195: "Local Gazetteers as a Database: New Digital Research Methods," AAS 2018, March 2018.

Shih-Pei Chen

  • "Treating a Genre as a Database: the Chinese Local Gazetteers, the LG tools, and Research Based on this New Digital Methodology," Digital Humanities, August 2017.
  • "LoGaRT: Local Gazetteers Research Tools," Panel 195: "Local Gazetteers as a Database: New Digital Research Methods," AAS 2018, March 2018.​​​​​​

Desmond Cheung

  • "Scaling Locusts: Environmental Statecraft in Ming China," Scaling the Ming International Conference, May 2018.

Hilde de Weerdt

  • "Linking, Visualizing and Interpreting Chinese Datasets" (with Jialong Liu and Huei-Lan Xiong), at University of Freiburg's "Statistics, Categories, and Politics: Interpreting and Visualizing Data from Modern Chinese History" workshop, May 10, 2018.

Joseph Dennis

  • "息訟歌的出版與傳播 (The Publication and Dissemination of Songs to Encourage the Cessation of Litigation)," Nankai University 南开大学, September 21, 2017.
  • "息訟歌的出版與傳播 (The Publication and Dissemination of Songs to Encourage the Cessation of Litigation)," Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, November 6, 2017.
  • "Reconstructing Book Circulation and Reading Using LoGaRT: A Database of School Library Collections in Ming, Qing, and Republican China," Panel 195: "Local Gazetteers as a Database: New Digital Research Methods," AAS 2018, March 2018.

Yan Gao

  • "Local biodiversity from historical perspective: preliminary findings from records on bird (从历史角度来看生物多样性:以鸟类为例)," Fudan University, June 2017.

Ian Miller

  • "Tax Surveys and Data Structures in Song, Yuan and Ming Gazetteers," Panel 195: "Local Gazetteers as a Database: New Digital Research Methods," AAS 2018, March 2018.

Gregory Scott

  • “The Taiping War and its Impact on Buddhist Monasteries in China, 1850–1898,” Annual Conference of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies, SOAS, University of London, July 1, 2017.
  • "Local Gazetteer Data on the Post-Taiping Reconstruction of Religious Institutions," Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Boston, November 20, 2017.

Griet Vankeerberghen

  • "Writing Memories: The Sanfu huangtu on the Qin and Western Han Capital Region," European Association for Chinese Studies Conference, August 30, 2018. 

Huiyi Wu

  • "Reality, Legend, Local Identity: Traces of Jesuits in Local Gazetteers," Needham Research Institute, November 2016.
  • "What Remains: The Persistence and Accommodation of the Field Allocation (fenye) Scheme in Local Gazetteers after the Impact of Western Learning," Needham Research Institute, May 2018.

Huei-Lan Xiong

  • "Linking, Visualizing and Interpreting Chinese Datasets" (with Hilde de Weerdt and Jialong Liu), at University of Freiburg's "Statistics, Categories, and Politics: Interpreting and Visualizing Data from Modern Chinese History" workshop, May 10, 2018.

 

 

Media

Digihum Humanities MPIWG History China

Blog Post: Elites, Networks, and Power in Modern China

Pierre Magistry on applying natural language processing (NLP) to Chinese local gazetteers.

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MPIWG China Digital Humanities Digihum

Blog Post: Ant, Spider, Bee

Shih-Pei Chen on Ant, Spider, Bee: "Material Network Analysis."

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Digihum Gazetteers digital humanities medium.com

Blog Post: Roots and Branches

Ian Miller on Medium.com blog, Roots and Branches: "Footprint of the Capitals."

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Chen_Deptiii_Local_Gazetteers_digihum_youtube.

Presentation: YouTube

Gregory Scott on Youtube, "Survey of Religious Reconstruction in Modern China."

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Past Workshops & Events

Chinese Local Gazetteers: Historical Method and Computerized Data Collection and Analysis

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Chinese Local Gazetteers: Local Materiality in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

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Chinese Local Gazetteers "Terminology"

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Chinese Local Gazetteers "Terminology“ Public Sessions

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