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Entangled histories of 'Nature' in the landscape discourses of early modern China and Europe (Nature Entangled)
Start date: 01 Oct 2014, End date: 30 Sep 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Chinese landscape gardens has focused European imagination in the 17th-18th century. Its naturalness is often considered as a source of the naturalistic English landscape garden. It is not understood today that this fascination was a reflection of many shifts of ideas in European societies and sciences – from moral philosophy to governance, from geology to physiology ― all interacting with flows of knowledge from China. The project reveals the historical legacy shared between China and Europe in constructing a ‘natural’ living environment in order to improve the well-being of citizens, the state, and the planet. This project will not only enhance the understanding of reciprocity between European and Chinese cultures, but will also shed light on contemporary discourses of how human engagement in modernity may contribute to a better society and a greener planet.The CIG funding will deepen the ‘Entangled landscapes’ paradigm which I had successfully initiated as an EU Marie Curie IEF Fellow through innovative understanding of the entanglements between the Chinese and European landscape representations. Whereas the IEF examined landscape representations, the CIG focuses on ‘Nature’ as a cultural product. Furthermore, the new CIG project develops a set of four innovative methods for deepening the ‘entangled landscapes’ paradigm. The CIG is designed to help my integration at the University of Exeter. It will allow me both to establish the ‘Entangled landscapes’ paradigm as a sub-field in Europe-China relations at the University of Exeter and develop a new European Network of Excellence on ‘Nature and Modernity: landscape between China and Europe,’ thereby drawing Exeter from the margins of Europe to the centre of European and global scholarship on European-Chinese transcultural studies.
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