University of Cambridge > > Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop > Oceanic Ecotopia, (De) colonizing the South; China’s First Encounter with Antarctica, 1882-1906

Oceanic Ecotopia, (De) colonizing the South; China’s First Encounter with Antarctica, 1882-1906

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As a latecomer in the geopolitical contest, China has joined the race for the Arctic and Antarctica today in terms of military deployment and scientific research. However, this hard-power approach was not the only way to imagine its engagement with the polar regions. Although China is far removed from the South Pole, late imperial publications show that it has been surprisingly up to date about the development of the European exploration of Antarctica since the late nineteenth century. This paper is a preliminary study of China’s earliest cli-fi about Antarctica, Icy Mountain and Snowy Ocean (Bingshan xuehai), published in 1906. Subtitled ‘A Colonial Novel’ (zhimin xiaoshuo), it is set in the apocalyptic future in the year 2399, where global climate change drives southeastern Chinese people to search for a new livable habitat. After sailing for months through the Arctic and Indian Ocean, the Chinese expedition team establishes a socialist ecotopia with people of other races on a remote continent. This study aims to shed light on China’s long-standing but less-known fascination with the continent and its evolving role in shaping its geopolitical, scientific, and environmental policies.

This talk is part of the Polar Humanities and Social Sciences ECR Workshop series.

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