UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

To govern the state and bring peace to the realm : Qiu Jun's (1421-1495) geographic statecraft thought in 15th century Ming China Throness, Aaron Wesley


This thesis examines the statecraft thought of one particularly important scholar-official, Qiu Jun (1421-1495), who lived and thought during China’s Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It does not set out to examine the general contours of his statecraft thought, but instead focuses on one of its substrains: it is Qiu Jun’s geographic statecraft thought that this thesis studies, and in particular connection to his views on foreign relations. This research argues that Qiu conceived of geography as an indispensable tool of government, both in doctrinal and practical terms, for managing Ming China’s deeply troubled relationship with non-Chinese peoples within and without dynastic borders. Chapter 1 offers an introduction to the subject at hand and establishes the historiographical ecology within which this thesis operates and to which it hopes to contribute. It also addresses concerns of methodology in relation to geography and the formulation of worldviews. Chapter 2 sets the stage for the inquiries to follow by provisioning for Qiu a concise biography, after which point it sketches the intellectual trends against which Qiu’s statecraft preferences developed, the underlying principles and designs of his statecraft thought, and the impact of the Tumu Incident on both his and the Ming court’s political consciousness. Chapter 3 looks into the theoretical patterns of Qiu Jun’s geographic statecraft thought and how these patterns gave shape to his historico-political views on how the Ming state should manage non-Chinese in a geo-demographic context. Chapter 4 then investigates how he applied the principles of geography in formulating Ming military policies vis-à-vis non-Chinese peoples. This chapter also pays particular attention to Song precedents of geo-military statecraft, and in so doing attempts to situate Qiu within an extensive lineage of Chinese thinkers who found recourse in geographic thinking when faced with crises involving non-Chinese peoples. Chapter 5 reviews the overall findings of this thesis and seeks to position them in dialogue with a number of critical issues, including: divergences between theory and practice in Qiu Jun’s geographic statecraft thought, implications of his conservative geo-politics for contemporary trends in Ming sinology, and lineages of geographic statecraft thought in late imperial China.

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