Introduction to "Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian History: The Past and Future of the Gaihōzu"

Guest editor Kären Wigen, Stanford University
Illustration of a theodolite. Source: National Library of Korea Digital Archive.
Download Article (269.94 KB)

The spatial turn of recent years has brought a number of novel landscapes into focus for scholars of East Asia. One such frontier—located at the intersection of urban development, state power, and territorialization—provided the conceptual ground for the inaugural issue of the Cross-Currents e-journal in December 2011. Another—the domain of imperial cartography—undergirds the present collection of articles. The articles featured here grew out of an international symposium on the gaihōzu held at Stanford University in October 2011. The occasion for the conference was the belated discovery that Stanford is among the half dozen universities in the United States to harbor an as-yet uncatalogued collection of Japanese military maps. Bringing together librarians, geographers, and historians from both sides of the Pacific with generous support from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Stanford symposium explored how Japanese military and imperial maps can speak to the fields of social, diplomatic, and economic history alike. Whether interrogated as evidence for the mentality of their makers, the process of their production, or the content of their data, gaihōzu offer a wealth of scholarly riches.