Abstract: The city of Guangzhou and its surrounding territory—called Lingnan—was seen during the Tang as a wild frontier zone of strange and mysterious creatures and people. Increasing this frontier nature was the presence of merchants from all over the Indian Ocean basin. By analyzing written documents produced during the Tang—from both Chinese and non-Chinese sources—a better understanding can be had of what cross-cultural interactions were possible at this point in world history. While the situation in Tang dynasty Guangzhou was certainly not a utopia of cross-cultural acceptance, nuanced investigation of the interactions between locals and foreigners reveals much more than hostility and violence. The exchanges that took place in Tang Guangzhou had a definite impact on how societies saw China and how China viewed other nations. This paper contributes to scholarly discussions of cross-cultural exchanges, borderlands, maritime trade and trade diasporas, and how to evaluate premodern Chinese history.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Oct 5, 2015