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The Metageography of the Northern and Southern Dynasties

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image of T'oung Pao

Sui and Tang historians constructed a geographical conceptualization for the Northern and Southern Dynasties that depicted them as equal and complementary halves of one greater whole, now “unified” under the Sui-Tang empire. This spatial model has been the dominant way in which modern historians have thought about the fifth and sixth centuries. But literati of that time conceptualized their geopolitical landscape very differently. This article examines the varied ways in which literati of the Northern and Southern Dynasties conceptualized their own geopolitical landscape. In each of the models examined, the spatial relationship between north and south is described as hierarchical and adversarial, differing considerably from the equal and complementary model espoused by Tang historians.
Les historiens des époques Sui et Tang ont élaboré une conceptualisation géographique des dynasties du Nord et du Sud qui les décrit comme les moitiés égales et complémentaires d’un tout, unifié par les empires Sui et Tang. Ce modèle spatial est devenu le principal mode d’appréhension de l’histoire des ve et vie siècles pour les historiens modernes. Les intellectuels de ces deux siècles cependant, avaient de toutes autres conceptions de leur paysage géopolitique. Cet article examine ces différentes conceptions; il identifie plusieurs modèles, dans lesquels les relations entre Nord et Sud sont toujours décrites comme hiérarchiques et hostiles, au contraire du modèle complémentaire adopté ensuite par les historiens des Tang

Affiliations: 1: Brigham Young University


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