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Evenings with an Author: Ana Hosne (partner event with France Fulbright Alumni Association)

13 February 2019 @ 19 h 30 min - 21 h 00 min

European mapping of and explorations in Tibet (13th – 18th centuries)

To many European travelers, cartographers and, in general terms, all curious men eager to receive information from different parts of Asia in early modern Europe, Tibet was a land of hearsay, rumors and geographical speculation. Through their accounts, European medieval voyagers, such as Marco Polo, provided relatively unreliable knowledge of Tibet throughout the thirteenth century, which had also inspired its (imprecise) cartographical representation in Europe.

In this talk, Ana will provide an overview of three major processes to describe the European experience in the area in question, that is, discerning, mapping and exploring Tibet in the early modern period. They all connect Europe with different parts of Asia: the arrival of Jesuit missionaries in Mughal India in the late sixteenth century, convinced of the presence of Christian communities behind the Himalayas, encouraged expeditions in those parts, amidst vague geographical references. In terms of mapping, the hazy – at times, almost nonexistent – location of Tibet in European cartography from the mid-sixteenth century throughout the mid-seventeenth century found a place in a Jesuit cartography produced in China, which fed on Chinese sources, and was later replicated in Europe. Early eighteenth century explorations and surveys organized by the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (r. 1661-1722) – right before the Qing rule over Tibet – materialized in a scientific cartography of Tibet, which reached Europe in the first half of the eighteenth-century, taking distance from its imaginary past in the European imagination.

Ana Carolina Hosne is Assistant Researcher at the National Council for Scientific Research (CONICET), Argentina. She received her PhD in History from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She specializes in cultural exchanges between China, Europe and colonial Latin America in the early modern period, global mission history, and more recently, cultural exchanges between Europe and Tibet. She is  author of numerous articles on cultural exchanges between China and Europe, and of The Jesuit Missions to China and Peru. Expectations and Appraisals of Expansionism, 1570-1610 (Oxon: Routldege, 2013). She has been awarded post-doctoral and visiting fellowships at the European University Institute, Harvard University, the University of Heidelberg, the Center for Chinese Studies (Taiwan), among other institutions.

Photo credit: Christophe Delory


13 February 2019
19 h 30 min - 21 h 00 min
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