A Geo-Spatial Approach to Town and Village Gazetteers: The Case of Puyuan in late Imperial China

Project Number
RP 5/14 LML

Project Duration
March 2015 - November 2018


One of the most recent and exciting developments in the Humanities is the development of digital and spatial humanities and the growing importance of the Spatial Turn in History. Much of this had come about because of the growing awareness among historians and scholars from other disciplines about the possibilities offered by the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to historical issues. The ability of geospatial technology to present complex and perhaps hitherto unseen relationships that have long remained hidden in texts through visualizations of spatial patterns is fast becoming the basis for new ways of studying and understanding history. In line with the increasingly obvious potential uses of GIS in History outlined above, the collaborators in this team aims to capitalize on their academic expertise from Chinese History and GIS to embark upon an inter-disciplinary project that seeks to combine historical documentary analysis with geospatial technology. The focus of study is the market town of Puyuan in Zhejiang, China. By focusing on the digitization of historical data from the town gazetteers that date from the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911) to the early Republican period (1920s) and through the geospatial representation of the data on a web-based platform, the resulting corpus of data thus collected, digitzed and represented will not only provide the basis for furthering our understandings about social and economic change in late imperial China, but also be an open-access empirical contribution to the larger body of historical and geographical knowledge about China.

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