Maps are an important site of the production and consumption of the national image. This essay examines modern Chinese maps to show how the very material borders between foreign and domestic space are the outgrowth of the symbolic workings of historical geography and the conventions of Chinese cartography. These maps do much more than celebrate the extent of Chinese sovereignty; they also mourn the loss of national territories through a cartography of national humiliation. The goal of this essay is to shift our attention from the diplomatic issues of international borders to examine what Chinese maps of China can tell us about the Chinese people's hopes and fears, not only in the past or present, but for the future. This essay has two general aims: to demonstrate how China's current national maps have emerged through the creative tension of unbounded imperial domain and bounded sovereign territory, and to show how the cartography of national humiliation informs the biopolitics of the geobody. China's often unique experience, the essay concludes, can show us how cartography is an important site of struggle for other peoples as well.
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William A. Callahan; The Cartography of National Humiliation and the Emergence of China's Geobody. Public Culture 1 January 2009; 21 (1): 141–173. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2008-024
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