Cultures, stars and numbers: intercultural exchanges in East Asian mathematics and astronomy


Cullen, Christopher (Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, UK);

Morgan, Daniel (CNRS & Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France);

Qu, Anjing (Northwest University, Xi’an, China);

Tang, Quan (Xianyang Normal University, Xianyang, China)


Pre-modern East Asia was the home of distinctive traditions in both mathematics and astronomy. During the first millennium CE these traditions, first developed in China, became common to the whole region, including Korea and Japan. Within the broad theme of the conference, ‘Unity and Disunity’, the aim of this panel is to encourage discussion of relevant issues in a regional and global historical and cultural context.

Despite their common roots, the theory and practice of mathematics and astronomy was by no means uniform across the whole East Asian land-mass. It is thus illuminating to trace the way that elements of these disciplines were appropriated, adapted and developed as they moved across regional and cultural boundaries. Moreover, pre-modern East Asia was highly permeable to the flow of ideas from the rest of the Eurasian continent - first from South Asia in the context of the coming of Buddhism in the first millennium CE, then from the Islamicate world from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) onwards, and finally from early modern Europe with the arrival of Jesuit Christian missionaries in the later part of the 16th century. The complex interactions that followed from these contacts are revealing not only of the nature of the East Asian traditions in astronomy and mathematics, but also of the traditions that scholars in East Asia encountered afresh.

We seek suggestions for paper topics from scholars working in any relevant area. Given the short time that is likely to be available for submissions (of the order of 20 minutes or less), we are particularly interested in suggestions for well-focussed and specific contributions that can be shared effectively with a broadly-based audience within those constraints. Those interested are invited to submit a title and a short draft abstract to: before 11 December, 2017.

Contact email

Deadline for paper submission

Decembre 12, 2017