Imagined Geographies

The Maritime Silk Roads in World History, 100–1800


Geoffrey C. Gunn

ISBN : 978-988-8528-65-3


September 2021

312 pages, 6″ x 9″, 2 b&w figs., 3 maps and 14 color illus.

  • HK$550.00

Imagined Geographies is a pioneering work in the study of history and geography of the pre-1800 world. In this book, Gunn argues that different regions astride the maritime silk roads were not only interconnected but can also be construed as “imagined geographies.” Taking a grand civilizational perspective, five such geographic imaginaries are examined across respective chapters, namely Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and European including an imagined Great South Land. Drawing upon an array of marine and other archaeological examples, the author offers compelling evidence of the intertwining of political, cultural, and economic regions across the sea silk roads from ancient times until the seventeenth century. Through a thorough analysis of these five geographic imaginaries, the author sets aside purely national history and looks at the maritime realm from a broader spatial perspective. He challenges the Eurocentric concept of center and periphery and establishes a revisionist view on a decentered world regional history. This book will definitely interest history lovers from all around the world who wants to know more about how their forebears viewed their respective region and how their region fits into world history with local uniqueness.

Geoffrey C. Gunn is professor emeritus at Nagasaki University, Japan. Besides earlier books with a world history theme, as with Overcoming Ptolemy: The Revelation of an Asian World Region, he has published a number of country studies on East-Southeast Asia, some with translations into Portuguese, French, Indonesian, and Chinese. He is the author of History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000–1800 (HKUP, 2011) and editor of Wartime Macau: Under the Japanese Shadow (HKUP, 2016).

“Gunn takes large themes and makes them understandable. He is not afraid to make the grand statement, and to look at the sweep of history all in one arc. I admire that greatly; this is not history for the faint of heart. But it is history well-done, and history that can show the forest from the trees.” —Eric Tagliacozzo, John Stambaugh Professor of History, Cornell University

“This is one of the most ambitious and insightful books that I have read on pre-Modern maritime Asia. The author offers fascinating perspectives on how this vast region was imagined, charted, and experienced over many centuries. That requires mastery of an immense range of scholarship and primary sources. His aim is to knit this watery world together into a conceptual whole. This mission is accomplished with style and discipline.” —Andrew R. Wilson, John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies, U.S. Naval War College