Embracing Science : Sino-Swedish Collaborations in the Field Sciences, 1902–1935

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University

Abstract: In 1902, a Swedish professor at Shanxi University started to study the region’s geology and in 1913, he suggested to the Chinese Republican Government an expansion of these surveys nationwide. As a result, the Head of the Geological Survey of Sweden, J. G. Andersson, was employed as a geological adviser to the Chinese Government. With the formation of the Geological Survey of China in 1916, headed by Ding Wenjiang, this collaboration soon evolved into a bilateral scientific project involving a large number of Swedish naturalists. It culminated in the highly interdisciplinary Sino-Swedish Expedition (1927–1935), in which Chinese and Swedish scientists spent eight years surveying China’s northwest.This study shows that the Chinese goals for the project were closely related to domestic striving to modernize and strengthen the nation by the use of modern science. The Swedes provided funding and expertise for mapping the nation’s geology, while the publication of the scientific results in Chinese bulletins promoted both the spread of modern science in the country and China’s scientific advancement internationally. As the domestic research community grew, the collaboration became a scientific joint venture that was controlled by the new Academia Sinica, formed in 1928.The dissertation further illustrates how the Swedish participants were closely connected to the Polar research community that reallocated resources from Polar exploration to China. As China offered an alternative field for research and access to data that could help solve the issues on the Swedish scientific agenda, these resources enabled the fieldwork to reach unprecedented proportions. The project was framed in nationalistic rhetoric to attract further funding for continued fieldwork, while the primary goal was to explore the major research issues.

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