05 May 2022 15:00

Jörg Henning Hüsemann: Patterns of Nature - Environment in Agricultural Writings

Ca’ Vendramin dei Carmini, Sala A and online

Jörg Henning Hüsemann (Universität Leipzig)  Patterns of Nature - Environment in Agricultural Writings

Abstract: The content of agronomical writings (nongshu 農書) is often understood as codified technical information that agronomists had gained from peasants and personal experience or that they had unearthed from earlier writings. However, several agronomists since the Song dynasty have emphasized that a successful agriculture takes more than technical skills, but also requires a thorough understanding of the natural conditions. A key concern was knowledge about “what it suitable” (suo yi 所宜) for specific environmental conditions, because only then was it possible to “prevail over nature” (sheng tian 勝天). Farmers thus had to adjust their efforts according to the “heavenly seasons” (tian shi 天時), the “channels of the earth” (di mai 地脈), and the “nature of things” (wu xing 物性), sometimes summarized as the “three suitabilities” (san yi 三宜). Focusing on agronomical writings from the Song through the Qing dynasties, this talk will reveal that agronomists systematized and explained the natural environment in terms of general concepts of nature such as Qi, Yin and Yang, and the Five Elements. In their eyes, when choosing cultivation methods, farmers had to take into account not only practical needs, but also their impact on the processes in nature. This talk will argue that the agronomists' explanations of the environment also allow a deeper understanding of their practical advice.

Short Bio
Jörg H. Hüsemann received his PhD from the University of Hamburg in 2012. Since 2013 he is working as a lecturer for Chinese culture and history at Leipzig University. His research and teaching focus on the history of agriculture, science, technology, and environment in China. In his current project, “Golden Juice and Hemp Cake,” he is dealing with the history of fertilizers in imperial China. 

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Meeting ID: 830 5104 2967
Passcode: Dw6vcv

This event is part of the Environments, Societies, and Histories in East Asia Lecture series, organised by NICHE in collaboration with Maddalena Barenghi, Marco Zappa, Daniele Brombal, Francesca Tarocco and the Department of Asian and North African Studies.


The event will be held in English

Organized by

Centro Niche, DSAAM, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia


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