We are at the center of the world : Conception of “Centrality” in Pre-Modern Geography


Author: Qing Wang (Beijing Normal University)
Speaker: Qing Wang
Topic: Language and Spatiotemporal Frames
The CALA 2021 Colloquium


Abstract

There has been a dispute between Chinese astronomers and Buddhists that whether China or India is the center of the world more than 1400 years ago. Both China and India have been claiming to be the center of the world. The shadow cast by the sun at noon on Summer Solstice Day defeats China as the center of the world. That method of testifying the center of the world is of foreign origin, quite different from the traditional Chinese standard. Two other competing claims to be the center of the earth in Chinese domain seem to be of Indian origin and Greek origin. The conception of Centrality is prevalent in quite many ancient civilizations and it is also illustrated in world maps. Centrality could demarcate central us from others in borders, and it would justify the supremacy of ourselves over others in the periphery.

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Keywords: Center of the World, Buddhism, Centrality