Maps of Manchuria: towards new visualisation of global, transnational or cross-border activities.

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference


This paper outlines the scope, methods, sources and first outcomes of the maps created for the project on “Competing Imperialisms in Northeast Asia, 1894-1953”. Focusing on Manchuria, it explains how the compilation of historical maps can help to integrate narratives on the region deriving from different methodologies and perspectives, offering unifying visual representations of intersecting research approaches to a challenging and constantly transforming area.
Addressing historical questions to the land within a geographical framework, this paper shows that technologies such as archaeological and historical Geographical Information Systems (GIS), combined with historical geography and applied to existing data and already compiled maps, cartographic or topographic resources, can provide new answers, better definitions of old problems, deeper understanding, and more thought-provoking questions than previous, more fragmented approaches have produced.
The Manchurian region, the focus of this research, will be scrutinized historically using mapping as methodology. The analysis of the treaty port system in Manchuria in conjunction with the examination of the regional topography will demonstrate that political and military choices made by the competing empires were dictated by the ecosystem, its orography, hydrography, and related waterway systems, which reverberated in the settlement of the Russian and Japanese populations in the region. Furthermore, topography in concomitance with the customs system will reveal to which extent China could claim governmentality in relation to sovereignty, territoriality, and taxation within its territory.
Period10 Sep 2021
Event titleCIRN 3: Competing Imperialisms in Northeast Asia: A new Perspective.
Event typeConference
LocationSaint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • China
  • Manchuria
  • border
  • Northeast Asia
  • photography