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Dr. Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann

Research Interests:

Concepts of time-correlated space in the emerging Chinese Empire, based on transmitted and manuscript texts from the Warring States period to the Han dynasty (ca. 4th c. BC - 2nd c. AD); Visualization of spatio-temporal concepts in traditional Chinese cartography: maps of earth-heaven (= space-time) correlation and temporal cycles incorporated into maps, diachronic map layers, and process-oriented maps.


Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann is a Chargé de Recherche Hors Classe at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France, a permanent member of UMR8173 Chine-Corée-Japon, CNRS-EHESS, and an associate member of UMR8504 Géographie-cités, CNRS-EHESS. She received the equivalent of a Ph.D. ('Kandidat Nauk') in History (Sinology) from the Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University in 1992, and was awarded several postdoctoral fellowships, including a Bourse Diderot (Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris) and a Humboldt Research Fellowship. She has been a Visiting Fellow at National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (2014), Zhejiang University, PRC (2018), and the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities, Erlangen (2015-2016). She is also a recurring Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (2017-2023), where she is currently collaborating on the research project "Fenye in Local Gazetteers". Her recent publications cover a wide range of text-map relations. She is currently researching ancient Chinese conceptions of terrestrial space and their continuing influence on Chinese cartography.

Project Abstract

Dynamics of Time-Correlated Space in Texts and Maps: The Case of Early China

This project investigates the dynamic relationship between time and space in early China through an innovative methodology that integrates early textual sources and maps drawn as comments or reflections on these texts. This innovative methodology, previously tested in 2021, challenges traditional perceptions by bridging the gap between early China specialists and historians of cartography.

Focusing on maps depicting cycles of time, particularly circular world maps influenced by the "Classic of Mountains and Seas" (Shanhaijing 山海經, compiled in the 1st century BC), the so-called "cosmograph" maps (2019), and "field-allocation" (fenye 分野) maps (first half of the 17th century), the study aims to systematically analyze the locations of landmarks listed in early Chinese terrestrial descriptions. Although often overlooked, these maps provide valuable insights into the representation of temporal cycles.

Curriculum vitae


‘Kandidat Nauk’ (equivalent of Ph.D.) in History (Sinology), Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University, 1992.

M.A. in History (Oriental Studies – Sinology), Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University, 1983.

Academic Positions

Since 2000

Chargé de Recherche (Chargé de Recherche Hors Classe, since 2019), the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France.

Permanent Member of UMR 8173 Chine-Corée-Japon (CCJ), CNRS-EHESS, France (member of the scientific council since 2012 and Deputy Director between 2015-2017).

Associate member of UMR8504 Géographie-cités, CNRS-EHESS.


Permanent Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences.


Associate Professor, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University.



Recurrent Visiting Scholar of the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science – MPIWG, Berlin.

May 2018

Visiting Fellow, Zhejiang University, PRC.


International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), University of Nuremberg-Erlangen.


National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan.

Postdoctoral Fellowships


Humboldt Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Göttingen, with several follow-ups, including University of Nuremberg-Erlangen (2017) and LMU Munich (2011).


Diderot Fellowship, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH), Paris.

Selected Publications

2024, with Ekaterina Simonova-Gudzenko. "Lost in Transmission. Maps of Japan by Daikokuya Kōdayū 大黒屋 光太夫 (1751–1828)". In Übersetzungspolitiken in der Frühen Neuzeit / Translation Policy and the Politics of Translation in the Early Modern Period, edited by Antje Flüchter, Andreas Gipper, Susanne Greilich and Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink, 253-300. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

2021. "Map Translation as Source and Process: From Print to Manuscript". Research Methods Primary Sources.

2021. "The Han River as the Central Axis and Predominance of Waterways: Questioning the Claim of  'No Chu-related Traits' in the View of Terrestrial Space in the Rong Cheng shi Manuscript (4th c. BC)". Early China 44, 143-235.

2019. "'Inversed Cosmographs' in Late East Asian Cartography and the Atlas Production Trend". In East-West Encounter in the Science of Heaven and Earth, edited by Tokimasa Takeda and Bill M. Mak, 144-174. Kyoto: Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.

2019, revised 2009. "Ritual Practices for Constructing Terrestrial Space (Warring States-Early Han)". In Early Chinese Religion. Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC – 220 AD), edited by John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski, 595-644. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

2007. "Mapless Mapping: Did the Maps of the Shan hai jing Ever Exist?". In Graphics and Text in the Production of Technical Knowledge in China: The Warp and the Weft, edited by Francesca Bray, Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann and Georges Métailié, 217-294. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

For more publications, please visit Vera's Academia page.

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