Modern Chinese Scientific Technologies

Welcome to the WSC Database website!

HRA 5 Modern Chinese Scientific Terminologies

The Distribution of Western Knowledge in Late Imperial China

Coordination: Joachim Kurtz, Jens Østergaard Petersen, Kaja Müller-Wang, Duncan Paterson, Iwo Amelung


The WSC-Project (Wissenschaftssprache Chinesisch / Modern Chinese Scientific Terminologies) aims to understand the distribution and transformation of Euro-American knowledge in late imperial China (ca. 1600–1911) through the reconstruction of Chinese scientific terminologies coined, altered, disputed and successively refined since the early nineteenth century. Due to the vast amount of relevant sources, the project will limit its scope for the time being to the disciplines of philosophy, logic, physics, chemistry, geography (i.e. "knowledge on foreign countries"), politics and international law. In addition, it will concentrate on the formative period of modern Chinese scientific vocabulary between ca. 1840 and 1930.

In its first phase, the project focuses on the revision of a bibliographical database containing over 10000 records documenting translations of Western science and thought into Chinese during the period of investigation. Other data like biographical information on the authors and translators, or new terms developed and employed in these writings, are stored in related databases linked to the bibliography, which will be prepared for online access in two planned future stages of the project. The initial release of the biographical database took place between 2010 and 2013.

The second phase of the project from April until November 2015 revised the bibliographical database and completed online access to data on over 5400 authors and translators, and to 72000 new terms developed and employed in these writings. To increase the usability of this data, users can now search and retrieve data across the three pillars of the database via our online interface through the links above, or request access to the full datasets in MODS and TEI format from the data repository of Heidelberg University heiData.

The three repositories will make the transmission of knowledge transparent and accessible by providing comprehensive information on the media, institutions, people, texts, terms, sites and images involved in diverse instances of distribution, adaptation and appropriation of knowledge from Euro-America and Japan in late Qing and early Republican China.

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Application Info

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title: Modern Chinese Scientific Technologies
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