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  • Article in Newspaper
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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, 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 current phase, the project focuses on the revision of a bibliographical database 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. Once completed, 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.