One Asia Forum Talk Series: “Cartography, Pirates, and Regional Formation in the Sixteenth-Century South China Sea”

With guest speaker Professor Peter Shapinsky (Michigan State University)

Thursday, 13 October, 2016
4:00 pm – 6:00pm
Room 604, Asian Centre

Open to the public. All are welcome.Canghai jin jing4LR

In this talk, I explore how global, maritime connectivity of the sixteenth century stimulated regional consciousness and cartographic innovation in East Asia. In the trade routes linking Southern China, Ryūkyū, and Japan, because of maritime bans in China and civil war in Japan, much of the traffic was carried by seafarers who appear in sources as “Japanese pirates” (wokou, waegu). While carrying out brutal raiding and trading expeditions, these Japanese pirate bands also created a cosmopolitan, maritime world where mariners from China, Korea, Japan, Ryūkyū, Europe, SE Asia, and other lands by necessity operated in ways that encouraged a receptivity to other cultures and the innovation of hybrid cultures, including in the areas of navigation and cartography. My focus for this presentation is the Mirror on Japan (Riben yijian, c. 1565) the only one of the several Ming Dynasty works on Japan to be written by someone who actually traveled to Japan and interacted with Japanese pirates, an aspiring literatus by the name of Zheng Shun’gong (fl. Mid sixteenth century)

About the speaker: Dr. Peter D. Shapinsky is associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, Springfield.  He is the author of Lords of the Sea: Pirates, Violence, and Commerce in Late Medieval Japan (Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2014) and several articles. His research focuses on medieval Japan and the maritime history of East Asia from the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries.