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.

Working Group (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. 

 

Upcoming Events

Tu (圖) in Local Gazetteers

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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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Working Groups

Publications

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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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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Related Projects

Projects

Digihum Humanities MPIWG History China

Abstract: Digital Humanities 2016

Compiling a Database on Historical China from Local Records: The Local Gazetteers Project at the MPIWG.

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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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Talks and Conferences

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

  • "Compiling a Database on Historical China from Local Records: The Local Gazetteers Project at MPIWG," Digital Humanities, July 2016. Here
  • "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.​​​​​​

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.

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.

    Huiyi Wu

    • "Reality, Legend, Local Identity: Traces of Jesuits in Local Gazetteers," Needham Research Institute, November 2016.