Making the New World Their Own

Chinese Encounters with Jesuit Science in the Age of Discovery


In Making the New World Their Own, Qiong Zhang offers a systematic study of how Chinese scholars in the late Ming and early Qing came to understand that the earth is shaped as a globe. This notion arose from their encounters with Matteo Ricci, Giulio Aleni and other Jesuits. These encounters formed a fascinating chapter in the early modern global integration of space. It unfolded as a series of mutually constitutive and competing scholarly discourses that reverberated in fields from cosmology, cartography and world geography to classical studies. Zhang demonstrates how scholars such as Xiong Mingyu, Fang Yizhi, Jie Xuan, Gu Yanwu, and Hu Wei appropriated Jesuit ideas to rediscover China’s place in the world and reconstitute their classical tradition. Winner of the Chinese Historians in the United States ( CHUS) "2015 Academic Excellence Award"
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EUR €171.00USD $227.00

Biographical Note

Qiong Zhang, Ph. D. (1996, Harvard) teaches at Wake Forest University. Her research intersects with late imperial Chinese intellectual and cultural history and the history of the Jesuit mission in China. She has published many articles in these areas.

Review Quote

"The title of this fine study of the relationship between Jesuit missionaries and Chinese scholars shows that the author is determined to explore the Chinese side of that relationship far more than other recent studies of the Jesuits in China. Rather than a Eurocentric view of a “New World,” which focusses on the Americas, Zhang relates how encounters with Europeans and, more important, encounters with Jesuits enabled late Ming- and early Qing-dynasty China to adopt a new picture of the world." – Sheila J. Rabin, in: Journal of Jesuit Studies 3/3 (2016), pp. 518-519 [ Full review]

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Acknowledgments List of Abbreviations 1 Introduction: Globalization, Localization, and Cultural Resilience 2 Mapping a Contact Zone 3 Divergent Discourses on the Physical Earth in Premodern China 4 The Introduction and Refashioning of the Terraqueous Globe 5 Translating the Four Seas across Space and Time 6 Taking in a New World 7 Conclusion: Jesuit Science and the Shape of Early Chinese Modernity Bibliography Index


All interested in the history of science, Jesuit mission, Ming and Qing Chinese intellectual, cultural and maritime history, global early modernity, the dynamics of cross-cultural encounters, and translation studies.