Thematic Research > [ 99.02-99.07 ]The First Stage of Research Project Topics>
Community I: Modern East Asian Maritime Transport and the Rise of Maritime Civilization
Community I: Modern East Asian Maritime Transport and the Rise of Maritime Civilization
Research Topic | Project Participants
Contact person
| Tsai Shih-Shan(Chair Professor, NCTU), Lee Hong Chi (Chair Professor, NCTU)
Research Topic

This project aims to investigate from the perspective of comparative maritime history and reconsider the significance East Asia (especially Taiwan and China) history. This project hopes to approach the natural and scientific knowledge heritage in Chinese tradition, and the ocean fantasy in Taiwanese and eastern Asian literature or art. The project is divided into three sections: The first section will approach the interaction between Taiwan and the major maritime civilizations around the world, and the evolution and characteristics of Taiwan maritime civilization. This subproject centers on the cultural interaction between Netherland and Taiwan, south-east Asia and Taiwan, coastal China and Taiwan, the United Kingdom and Taiwan, France and Taiwan, Japan and Taiwan, and the United States and Taiwan.

The second section addresses two topics to probe into traditional Chinese nautical skills, and furthermore discuss the inheritance of Chinese scientific knowledge. The two topics are: (1) Research on the ancient Chinese navigational map (for naval use) in Yale University; (2) Traditional Chinese ship tonnage estimation. The first topic investigates the oldest nautical chart for fishermen available to date, from this map (119 sheets in total) the essential technological literacy for ancient navigation is perceived, as well as its usage and geographical representation methods of the Chinese. The second topic is related to science also, it discusses the units and methods of tonnage measurement in China after Sung dynasty. It was not until after the Sung dynasty that Chinese set vast numbers of ships into the sea. Therefore, many new knowledge concerning shipbuilding and marine navigation are obtained. This project is focused on analyzing ship size, in hopes of clarifying the size of the Zheng He treasure ship, and furthermore perceive of the basic technical knowledge of Chinese shipbuilders. These two topics combines to give a more complete picture on Chinese nautical science.

The third section addresses to the research in three aspects listed below:
(1) Oceanic description, imagination and expression in Taiwan literature.
(2) Oceanic description, imagination and representation in modern Chinese literature.
(3) Greek and Roman literary thought translation and elaboration in modern China.

In the first and second section mentioned above, expore the character, identification and ideals in life of Taiwanese people from literary works (and artworks, such as paintings and music). It would help us gain understanding of the decisive approach to the nation and ideal national orientation in contemporary societies. Also, it would provide insights into the commercial networks and thinking mindset developed in modern southern coastal China, and the operation and significance of the seaborne empire of commercial networks.

The third section discuss an unprecedented topic with no prior research to date. After the Renaissance, the inlet of western literature into China begun with Nicolas Trigault. But the Chinese gave western literature and philosophy a reception with an order of priorities. Likewise, the historical setting of the Greek and Roman civilization have the distinction between ocean and land, thus the methodology and discrimination of the Chinese reception towards western philosophy is so. This not only reflected the Occidentalism of the Chinese but also reflected the introspection and critique of the Chinese towards their own Chinese culture, which is still observable 20 years later in the ocean envisagement expressed in River Elegy. Hereby, this research happen to couple up with the former two sections, and make a thorough comparison and Geyi of the cross-strait space, literature, and art imagination.

In furtherance of genuine empathy in research, this project will hold regular meetings (9 times a year), and invite poets, artists and film producers to host salons and deliver speech or publish works. We believe that these activities will add to the inspiration and spiritual depth of researchers towards the research in literature or art. These three research sections are complementary. They provide the background of modern maritime civilization of Taiwan, and an elaborate review of its development and present situation.