Science, Space, and the Nation: The Formation of Modern Chinese Geography in Twentieth-Century China
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At the turn of the twentieth century, the modern epistemological framework of science superseded indigenous Chinese knowledge categories as the organizing unit for empirical knowledge about space. By the 1920s, pioneering Chinese intellectuals housed spatial knowledge under the new category of modern geography. While this framework for modern knowledge was rooted in the West, Chinese scholars innovated the discipline in ways that enabled them to consistently attend to fluctuating nation-building imperatives. Using autobiography, memoir, and periodicals produced by early Chinese geographers, this study explores how the intellectual shift toward spatial epistemological modernity facilitated modern China's entrance into the global nation-state system. Modern geographic knowledge ushered in new geopolitical claims and notions of citizenship that would define the new Chinese nation and its position in the world until today.