The book addresses for the first time the dynamics associated with the modernization of mathematics in China from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century from a transcultural global historical perspective. Rather than depict the transformations of mathematical knowledge in terms of a process of westernization, the book analyzes the complex interactions between different scientific communities and the ways in which the past, modernity, language, and mathematics were negotiated in a global context.
In each chapter, Andrea Breard provides vivid portraits of a series of go-betweens (such as translators, educators, or state statisticians) based on a vast array of translated primary sources hitherto unavailable to a non-Chinese readership. They not only illustrate how Chinese scholars mediated between new mathematical objects and discursive modes, but also how they instrumentalized their autochthonous scientific roots in specific political and intellectual contexts. While sometimes technical in style, the book addresses all readers who are interested in the global and cultural history of science and the complexities involved in the making of universal mathematics.
"While the pursuit of modernity is in the title, entanglement is of as much interest. Using the famous `Nine Chapters' as a framework, Breard considers a wide range of that entanglement from divination to data management. Breard's analysis and thought-provoking insights show once again how much we can learn when two cultures intersect. A fascinating read!" (John Day, Boston University).
Andrea Breard is professor of the history of science at the Universite Paris-Sud (France). Trained as a mathematician (TU Munchen) and sinologist (LMU Munchen & Fudan University), she obtained PhDs from the TU Berlin and the Universite Paris 7. She has taught in mathematics, history of science, and sinology at the technical universities of Munich and Lille, the Ecole Polytechnique, and the universities of Heidelberg and Frankfurt. She has also held fellowships from the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science (Berlin) and the International Research Consortium in the Humanities (Erlangen), and is an associated member of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" (University of Heidelberg). Her main research fields are the history of mathematics, modern China, and combinatorial practices in games and divination in early to pre-modern China.