Laura Hostetler’s work deals with imperial encounters and ethnography in a number of contexts. Her first book, Qing Colonial Enterprise: Ethnography and Cartography in Early Modern China (University of Chicago Press, 2001), examines ethnographic representation in the context of colonial contacts between the Qing empire and culturally non-Chinese peoples residing in frontier areas of southwest China. Her second book, The Art of Ethnography: A Miao Album of Guizhou Province (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005), is a translation (co-authored with David M. Deal) of an ethnographic album produced during the eighteenth century that includes a substantial introductory essay on early modern ethnography in comparative historical perspective. She is currently working on a co-authored project on the Qing Imperial Illustration of Tributary Peoples with Prof. Wu Xuemei of Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.
Professor Hostetler’s research interests include the history of cartography, empire, and encounters between Europe and Asia. In April 2016 she gave a talk on the current disputes in the South China Sea at the San Francisco Museum of Asian Art as part of a symposium she co-chaired for the Ricci Institute at the University of San Francisco where she is currently serving as EDS-Stewart Endowed Chair in Chinese Western Cultural Relations. The symposium title was “Reimagining the Globe and Cultural Exchange: From the World Maps of Ricci and Verbiest to Google Earth,” the talk title “China’s Maritime Claims: Perspectives from the History of Cartography.” The talk can be viewed online via iTunes.