Mapping the historical transformation of Beijing’s regional naming

Authors: Yong Yu*, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Topics: Historical Geography
Keywords: classification of place names, Beijing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Embassy Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This is a study of the Chinese city of Beijing in which I use “place names” as a means of understanding the changing geography of the city over its long history. Place names as special historical texts can not only reveal our different ways of understanding the locations, but also be studied trough spatial analysis in maps both historically and geographically. In this case, Beijing’s division and regions have been changed from time to time over its long history. How have Chinese people divided and named these regions in different ways? How have the underlying attitudes and thoughts on these regions transformed during the different historical periods? For answering these questions, I provide a new systematic classification of place names: place names can be classified into three intertwined parts: objects and numbers (scientific / practical ways of naming) , histories and emotions (humanistic ways of naming), politics and ideologies (social constructionist ways of naming). Through spatial analysis of these groups of names, we can see that the ways of naming the regions in Beijing has transformed from the humanistic ways in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), to the humanistic and practical ways in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), to the social constructionist ways in Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), to the scientific ways in The half-hearted modern in Republic of China (1912-1949), to the humanistic and practical ways in The People's Republic of China (1950-2015), and to the practical ways after 2015.

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