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Old Cities : Nanjing and Beijing - Depictions in Historic Encyclopedias

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Do-Gyun
Term Paper, AP European History Class, June 2009



Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Nanjing (Nanking)
II.1 General (in Modern Terms)
II.2 Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865
II.2.1 Contents
II.2.2 Objectivity
II.3 Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899
II.3.1 Contents
II.3.2 Objectivity
II.4 Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition
II.4.1 Contents
II.4.2 Objectivity
II.5 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
II.5.1 Contents
II.5.2 Objectivity
II.6 Overall Analysis
III. Beijing (Peking)
III.1 General (in modern terms)
III.2 Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865
III.2.1 Contents
III.2.2 Objectivity
III.3 Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899
III.3.1 Contents
III.3.2 Objectivity
III.4 Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition
III.4.1 Contents
III.4.2 Objectivity
III.3 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
III.5.1 Contents
III.5.2 Objectivity
III.6 Overall Analysis
IV. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



I. Introduction
            Historians in general put much effort in achieving objectivity when depicting history. Nevertheless, history requires interpretation whatsoever; subjectivity, therefore, is a major issue of concern. Various perspectives of viewing history about certain thing could create confusion and bias among readers of the encyclopedias. This paper is intended to display the diversity of perspectives by citing and analyzing the descriptions shown in four encyclopedias limited to historic editions about China's old cities, Nanjing (Nanking) and Beijing (Peking). The analyses below demonstrate the objectivity and also the subjectivity of the encyclopedia articles towards the two cities. The focus of the articles when describing each city is also noteable.

II. Nanjing (Nanking)

II.1 General
            Nanking (Nanjing, by modern name) is the Capital of China's Jiangsu Province. Nanking served as the capital city of Chinese states in the past, making it one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Nanjing is situated in the Yangtze River Delta, which is still one of the largest economic zones in all of China. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Nanking served as the seat of government for the Liangjiang Viceroy. In the mid-19th century, Nanking became ¡°Tianjing¡±, which means ¡°Heaven¡¯s Capital¡± of the Taiping Kingdom.
            Nanking had been a cultural center of ancient Chinese states. Nanking is a port; for its strategic geographical location and convenient transportation, the port was the center of all cultural and economic interactions in Tang and Song Dynasties. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city was the official center of imperial examination for Jiangnan region as well. The cultural center still thrives in culture nowadays. (1)

II.2 Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865

II.2.1 Contents
            The encyclopedia covers the basic characteristics of the port city. It describes Nanking as the ¡°capital of the Chinese province of Kiang-Su on Jantsekiang, second city of the Empire¡±. Nanking is also described as a cultural center; ¡°manufacturer in silk and cotton, trade, fishing, port, scientific institutions, medicine societies, temples, imperial tombs, etc¡± all imply the complexity of Nanking at that time. The article covers the population specifically in a rather wide range: half a million to one million. It also touches on the 1842 peace concluded ¡°daselbst¡± between China and England, which would be the Treaty of Nanking between the Qing and British Empire after the First Opium War. (2)

II.2.2 Objectivity
            Fairly this encyclopedia gives a summary- an overview- of 19th century Nanking. The most basic information is given with a fairly objective terms. Even in mentioning the Nanking Treaty, the encyclopedia only states the facts- the fact that the treaty was made there and nothing more. There weren¡¯t any personal remark or opinions stated in the article.

II.3 Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899

II.3.1 Contents
            The Swedish Encyclopedia suggests the inhabitants and the history of Nanking, also mentioning the basic information mentioned in the other encyclopedias. It briefly touches the variety of names that Nanking has. The Taiping Revolution and the rebuilding of the city are mentioned, as well as certain building structures noteworthy. Manufacture of ink, paper, artificial flowers, silk, and cotton fabrics is mentioned as the main production in Nanking, the major trading city in China. (5)

II.3.2 Objectivity
            This encyclopedia has the objectivity similar to that of the Britannica Encyclopedia, having similar length and level of detail. The tone and diction is constant without bias, solely describing the city and its related events.

II.4 Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition

II.4.1 Contents
            The details are very brief like the amount of details shown in Pierer¡¯s Encyclopedia. Nanking is depicted as the ¡°southern capital¡±-its literal meaning of Kiangsu Province. Description of population record and the Nanking Treaty are not given, unlike in the other encyclopedias. The Taiping Revolution and the reclaiming of the city is also mentioned in the description. (4)

II.4.2 Objectivity
            The Meyers Konversationslexikon does not display any opinionated statements about the city or the policies or events related to the city of Nanking. Very similar to Pierer¡¯s Encyclopedia, the article is quite brief and objective.

II.5 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition

II.5.1 Contents
            The details in this encyclopedia are quite longer than any other details of other encyclopedias. Seeing from the published date of the encyclopedia, it can be inferred that more systematic research for the encyclopedia could have been done; the article mentions rather exact populations (140,000) and the location in geographic terms (32-5¡¯N , 118-47¡¯E). It also covers change of names that Nanking had gone throughout the Chinese history. Again, the walls are mentioned, but to the relatively precise figures (70ft, 30ft after only the portions had been left). It mentions many of the artifacts and building structures of Nanking as well, and the precise mechanisms of the structures. The Nanking Treaty is mentioned here as well with more detailed look of the situations. More elaboration is done on the T¡¯aip¡¯ing rebellion in this encyclopedia, also with the explanation of the viceroy system in Nanking. (3)

II.5.2 Objectivity
            The Britannica Encyclopedia is quite delicate in elaboration compared to the other encyclopedias, having a surprisingly strong objectivity. Even though the British had made the Nanking Treaty with the Chinese state, the encyclopedia depicts it not from the British¡¯s point of view, which would have been a justification for the unfair treaty. All the explanations are quite scientifically measured in terms of figures.

II.6 Overall Analysis
            All of the encyclopedias were fairly objective in describing Nanking. Differences in measures and numbers were existent because of the difference in the range of years that the encyclopedias had been published. The level of detail also had been different, as the Britannica and the Swedish Encyclopedia were lengthier and detailed while the other two were shorter. However, the extent to which the encyclopedia covers is brief in terms of viewpoints. The perspectives are very limited- only limited to measures and numbers. Various events or policies held in Nanking are not mentioned, as the encyclopedias are from the European power¡¯s points of views. However objective these encyclopedias are, they are limited to explaining the treaties that do matter to their nation¡¯s policies and interactions. The Nanking Treaty was apparently the most important event that occurred in Nanking in the nineteenth century from the Europeans¡¯ points of views. Therefore, this treaty is the only event mentioned in the encyclopedia articles regarded significant.

III. Beijing (Peking)

III.1 General
            Peking (Beijing, by modern name) is the capital of the People¡¯s Republic of China. Along with Nanking(Nanjing), it is one of the four municipalities of China and the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. 17 million inhabitants live in Beijing in modern times, with 13 million residents within the city¡¯s urban area.
            Peking literally means, ¡°the northern capital¡±, contrary to the ¡°southern capital¡±, Nanking. The city has been renamed several times throughout the Chinese history. Peking in the 19th century served as the capital of Qing China. Most of the foreign interactions such as the religious acts of the Catholic Jesuits happened in Peking, as well as diverse economic actions had, too. (6)

III.2 Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865

III.2.1 Contents
            Pierer¡¯s Encyclopedia offers much information for Peking than it does for Nanking. It mentions that Peking is the capital of the empire of China, and therefore the main residence of the emperor. The location of Peking is also shown in the encyclopedia; around Peking there are thick walls and 12 large suburbs around 6 miles in circumference. The road system of Peking is mentioned along with the other features of the city structures including the division of the city in two parts: Tatar city where the imperial palace is located, and Chinese city where there are many gardens and fields. Several Christian churches, mosques and monasteries are mentioned also, as interaction with foreign states continued on in Qing Dynasty. Inhabitants reach 2 million according to the article, and trade and luxury had flourished in Peking. (7)

III.2.2 Objectivity
            Like the article for Nanking, description of Peking is quite unbiased in terms of opinions about the city; seeing that there are no descriptions about any policies or specific interactions with other states, it can be inferred that the article had solely intended to describe what the city appeared like- more or less about its characteristics. The article does not describe Peking¡¯s locations, however, by scientific geographical notation but with a relatively common diction.

III.3 Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899

III.3.1 Contents
            The Swedish Encyclopedia gives the exact location very similar to the two former encyclopedias. Average annual temperature is give as 11.7 degrees. The surface area is also given as 6341 hectares, and also the division of Peking is mentioned- the ¡°Tartarstaden¡± (Tatar City) and the Chinese City. Interestingly, the encyclopedia quotes a person, possibly a person who had been to Peking before, named Curzon. Curzon describes the walls of Peking as "unique phenomenon in the world and withdraw into memory mighty walls of Babylon". This firsthand citation is quite unusual in nowadays encyclopedia-making, taken as highly subjective style of writing. Other than that, the encyclopedia depicts other scenes from the city- the ones mentioned in previous encyclopedias, including the Catholic missionaries and the markets. (10)

III.3.2 Objectivity
            Because a direct quotation from a person, in other words, an opinion, had been displayed in the encyclopedia, the depiction about the wall is quite subjective. Whether the author of the encyclopedia intended or not, the subjectivity, however, does play a role in making the readers understand the extent of the walls of Peking. However well intended, the subjectivity might obscure the true features of the wall itself.

III.4 Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition

III.4.1 Contents
            The location of Peking mentioned in here is geographically almost identical to the one given in the Britannica Encyclopedia. The area that the city covers is 6340 hectares, but most of the land is considered as the Chinese City, and the small portion of the land is the Tatar City according to the article. The streets and the walls are again mentioned in this encyclopedia as well, and the description - the features and figures of the wall - is quite similar to that of the former two encyclopedias above. Notably, the Imperial Library is highlighted in the article as the center of cultural interactions. Schools were held and people from Thai, Burmese, Persian, Turkish, and Tibetan dialects taught. The most specific population number (1845) is given in this encyclopedia: 1,648,814. (9)

III.4.2 Objectivity
            This article had the most extensive information in all the encyclopedia articles researched in this paper; the basic information about Peking is quite more specified in terms of important centers of cultural exchanges and education. This little piece of tendency towards focusing on certain places or qualities of the city could be verified as the subjectivity of the author of the encyclopedia.

III.5 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition

III.5.1 Contents
            As shown above with the description of Nanking, Britannica offers the exact scientific/geographical location of Peking (39-57¡¯N, 116-29¡¯E). The population in the 19th century Peking reaches 4 million according to Britannica. More specific detail is given on the sub-division of Peking - Tatar and Chinese city - regarding the specific structures of the cities divided. In this article, the Boxer Movement is quite notably mentioned but only to the extent of just barely mentioning it to explain the damages done to the city structures. Buildings like the Forbidden City or the Temple of Heaven are thoroughly explained in the article. (8)

III.5.2 Objectivity
            Similar to Pierer¡¯s Encyclopedia, the Britannica offers only the facts and descriptions of the city rather than the policy or events undertaken in the city. Only the history of the names, structures, and the analysis of those landmarks seem to be evident in the article. Quite objectively was the description carried out through the article.

III.6 Overall Analysis
            In contrast to the descriptions about Nanking, the depictions of Peking had some form of focus and subjectivity shown whether the authors intended them or not. Most of the descriptions were once again about the city itself, not the specific historical events that were held in the Peking area. Again, this may be contributed to the viewpoints of the Europeans; that no significant treaties or events related to European states had occurred possibly had affected the focus of the encyclopedia to look towards only the place itself. Even the subjectivities shown are related to the features of the city, not the attitude towards the city or its policy.

IV. Conclusion
            It turned out that encyclopedic articles dealt with adequate amount of objectivity when it came to solely explaining about the cities. All of the encyclopedias contained most of the features inside the two cities; mainly, the difference was in the way of organizing the material and the specificity of the descriptions displayed.
            Pierer¡¯s Encyclopedia and the Britannica Encyclopedia tended to focus only on the objective facts about the cities - the measures of the area, the buildings and their features, and the history of nomenclature of the cities. The two latter encyclopedias - Meyer¡¯s and the Nordisk Encyclopedias were subjective in terms of description of the features. However, none of the encyclopedias showed subjectivity or any depiction about the events and history going on in those city walls.
            Perhaps, if one searched for more specific keywords, such as, ¡°the Nanking Treaty¡± or the ¡°Peking Treaty¡± in those encyclopedias, there may have been subjective explanations favoring or disfavoring the historical situation. However, the intent of the paper was to limit the research to the cities themselves; more research would be needed to find the political opinions of the authors. Apart from that, it can be concluded that the authors maintained objectivity fairly well in all of the encyclopedias regarding the two cities.


Notes (1)      Article: Nanjing, from Wikipedia
(2)      Article: Nankin, from Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865
(3)      Article: Nanking, from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
(4)      Article: Nanking, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition
(5)      Article: Nanking, from Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899
(6)      Article: Beijing, from Wikipedia
(7)      Article: Peking, from Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865
(8)      Article: Peking, from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition
(9)      Article: Peking, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition
(10)      Article: Peking, from Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899


Bibliography
Note : websites quoted below were visited in June 2009.

Primary Sources
(1)      Article: Nankin, from Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865, in German posted by Zeno http://www.zeno.org/Pierer-1857/A/Nankin+%5B1%5D?hl=nanking
(2)      Article: Nanking, from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition, posted by Classic Encyclopedia http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Nanking
(3)      Article: Nanking, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition, in German posted by Retro Bibliothek, http://www.retrobibliothek.de/retrobib/seite.html?id=111720
(4)      Article: Nanking, from Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899, in Swedish posted by Project Runeberg, http://runeberg.org/display.pl?mode=facsimile&work=nfbs&page=0244
(5)      Article: Peking, from Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 4th ed. 1857-1865, in German, posted by Zeno http://www.zeno.org/Pierer-1857/A/Peking+%5B1%5D?hl=peking
(6)      Article: Peking, from Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition, posted by Classic Encyclopedia http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Peking
(7)      Article: Peking, from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1885-1892 edition, in German, posted by Retro Bibliothek, http://www.retrobibliothek.de/retrobib/seite.html?id=112597
(8)      Article: Peking, from Nordisk Familje-Bok 1st ed. 1876-1899, in Swedish posted by Project Runeberg http://runeberg.org/nfca/0210.html

Secondary Sources
(9)      Article: Nanjing, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking
(10)      Article: Beijing, from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peking
(11)      Translation Website,.http://translate.google.com


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