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The commercialized economy of late imperial China depended on efficient transport, yet transport technologies, transport economics as well as its role in local societies and in interdependencies of environments and human activities are acutely under-researched. Nanny Kim analyses two transports systems into the Southwest of Qing China through the long eighteenth century and up to the mid-nineteenth century civil wars. The case studies explore shipping on the Upper Changjiang in Sichuan and through the Three Gorges into Hubei, and road transport out of the Sichuan Basin across northeastern Yunnan and northwestern Guizhou into central Yunnan. Specific and concrete investigations of a river that presented extreme dangers to navigation and carriage across the crunch zone of the Himalayan Plateau provides a basis for a systematic reconstruction of transport outside the lowland centres and their convenient networks of water transport.
All the articles featured in this volume first appeared in the Chinese-language edition of Blue Book of Chinese Society 2014. They present and analyze developments in 2012-2013 in income and consumption, industrial transformation, employment, social security, healthcare, education, quality of life and public sentiments. Most data come from several large-scale social surveys. There are a number of highlights. An entire chapter is devoted to capturing Chinese people’s outlook on their own future and that of the country. A special report takes the pulse of the Internet, whose social impact has grown rapidly in recent years. And for the first time in this series parenting strategies and styles of people with young children received special attention. Policy suggestions are provided.
Editors: Letian Zhang and Yunxiang Yan
This rare unusual collection contains a total of 774 letters, most of which were written by a couple, Mr. Lu and Ms. Jiang, who lived apart for more than fifteen years between 1961 and 1986 and relied mainly on letter-writing to communicate. They passionately revealed romantic love and conjugal compassion to each other; they discussed mundane details of everyday family life including management of the household economy, efforts of interacting with in-laws, relatives, and friends, learning course of raising children, and strategies of coping with financial hardship. They also sincerely engaged each other in a soul-searching process of making themselves into socialist subjects and participating in various political campaigns.

The content of these letters is as rich and complicated as the flow of life itself in which the personal, economic and political are intermingled together. The degree of sincerity and honesty in these letters is greater than that in many other kinds of historical data because the authors are not writing for public consumption. This rare collection of personal letters presents not only a huge amount of original and disaggregated data but also constitutes an oral history of social life in China that is unintentionally being recorded by the authors.
In Reshaping the Frontier Landscape: Dongchuan in Eighteenth-century Southwest China, Fei HUANG examines the process of reshaping the landscape of Dongchuan, a remote frontier city in Southwest China in the eighteenth century. Rich copper deposits transformed Dongchuan into one of the key outposts of the Qing dynasty, a nexus of encounters between various groups competing for power and space. The frontier landscape bears silent witness to the changes in its people’s daily lives and in their memories and imaginations. The literati, officials, itinerant merchants, commoners and the indigenous people who lived there shaped and reshaped the local landscape by their physical efforts and cultural representations. This book demonstrates how multiple landscape experiences developed among various people in dependencies, conflicts and negotiations in the imperial frontier.

This book presents a complete set of the daily work journals by a village cadre, Mr. Zhou Shengkang (1926-2012), from 1961 to 1982. Mr. Zhou carefully—and almost religiously—recorded all the meetings he attended or chaired, the information he received from his superiors, the various speeches and work tasks he completed, records of good and bad behavior by fellow villagers, details on village elections and leadership changes, and political campaigns and other important events in the community, plus his personal observations and reflections on these events.

To date such a systematic, rich, and detailed set of original work journal records have never appeared in published form or been made available to the public. When used as records of social history, Zhou’s work journals allow researchers to delve more deeply, and when used for comparative purposes, researchers can explore more widely to gain additional insights. Regardless of how the journals are used, they contain a gold mine of information waiting to be explored and uncovered.
Chronicles of Contemporary Chinese Social Life includes part of the data collected at the Fudan Data Center for Contemporary Chinese Social Life by Professor Zhang Letian and his team from grassroots society in China, either directly from the owner/author or from collectors who work with the original owner/author. The data is systematic and comprehensive in a self-standing way. All the data that were selected for publication are from a particular rural collective, an urban work-unit, or a residential community and thus reflect the wholeness of the given unit of social life. These data all stretch for a time span of ten years or more, providing enough temporal depth for research and better understanding. These non-aggregated data at the grassroots level systematically reflect the real social life of a particular community over a long time period; they are rich in details for both in-depth case studies and comparative studies. As these kinds of data have never been published before, this publication is truly unique and original.

The targeted readers include China scholars around the world, particularly those whose research focus on contemporary or post-1949 China and/or teaching courses for the same period, graduate students in the same fields for both learning and their own research, and some individuals from the concerned public who want to learn more about Chinese social life by engaging in original and untouched empirical data.
Metals, Transport, Trade and Society
Editors: Ulrich Theobald and Jin Cao
The book Southwest China in Regional and Global Perspectives (c. 1600-1911) is dedicated to important issues in society, trade, and local policy in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan during the late phase of the Qing period. It combines the methods of various disciplines to bring more light into the neglected history of a region that witnessed a faster population growth than any other region in China during that age. The contributions to the volume analyse conflicts and arrangements in immigrant societies, problems of environmental change, the economic significance of copper as the most important “export” product, topographical and legal obstacles in trade and transport, specific problems in inter-regional trade, and the roots of modern transnational enterprise.
Peasants, Migrant Workers and Informal Labor
Editor: Chongqing Wu
This collection includes seven articles from the journal Open Times, a window into contemporary Chinese academic trends. All the articles deal with the topic of “peasants, migrant workers and informal labor,” but each has a different emphasis.

It illustrates various ways that people from a countryside make use of local social resources to seek out ways to making a living. In these models, we can still see traditional social networks, various degrees of ties based on kinship and locality, and the existence of humans as social groups. It also analyzes Dagongmei’s collective actions to fight against the capital and patriarchy, workers’ collective resistance at OEM factories, and the impacts of labor migration on rural poverty and inequality.
Editors: Thomas DuBois and Huaiyin Li
Since its founding, the government of the People's Republic of China has strived to transform rural production, the theme of this volume of History of Contemporary China. Fourteen articles translated from the Chinese journal Contemporary History (Dangdai Zhongguo shi yanjiu) offer both empirical account and theoretical analysis of a broad range of historical events and issues, such as the guiding policy framework of the “three rural issues,” the causes and consequences of the deep plowing movement and the development of public canteens during the Great Leap Forward, child care, enterprises and collectives, and private lending in the post-Mao era, and the changing dynamics of interregional flows of goods and people throughout the second half of the 20th century. These studies shed light on the historical origins of some of the agricultural and rural problems in China today.
Sichuan Boatmen and Their Work Songs,1880s - 1930s
Singing on the River by Igor Chabrowski, based on Sichuan boatmen’s work songs ( haozi), explores the little known world of mentality and self-representation of Chinese workers from the late 19th century until the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937). Chabrowski demonstrates how river workers constructed and interpreted their world, work, and gender in context of the dissolving social, cultural, and political orders. Boatmen asserted their own values, bemoaned exploitation, and imagined their sexuality largely in order to cope with their low social status. Through studying the Sichuan boatmen we gain an insight into the ways in which twentieth-century nonindustrial Chinese workers imagined their place in the society and appropriated, without challenging them, the traditional values.