A seminal work on the social transitions of Middle Period China. Hymes argues, on the basis of detailed study of 73 local elites of Fuzhou Prefecture,...moreA seminal work on the social transitions of Middle Period China. Hymes argues, on the basis of detailed study of 73 local elites of Fuzhou Prefecture, Jiangxi, that the transition from the Northern to Southern Song evidenced a localist turn. He argues that there was less social mobility through the exam system than had previously been assumed. Exam passers were almost always preceded by uncles or cousins, if not by fathers or grandfathers, and elite status by some other means (lower exams, wealth etc) almost always preceded these accomplishments. In this atmosphere, and with increased hazards of national politics and expanded competition for degrees, elites turned to a more local strategy. Rather than marrying widely in the hopes of getting more support in the pursuit of high degrees, elites began to seek more local cohesion, for the purpose of benefiting their other activities (charity, local defense, religion, public works). This turn was accompanied by a general retreat of the state from these same local activities. Whether these shifts were due to changing philosophy (Zhu Xi's personal and local Neo-Confucianism, rather than the statist tendencies of Su Shi or Wang Anshi), changing state capacity, or the social trend toward localism is hard to tell precisely.(less)
Swislocki explores the changing relationship between ideas of food and culture and place in Shanghai as it changes from a regional city to a national...moreSwislocki explores the changing relationship between ideas of food and culture and place in Shanghai as it changes from a regional city to a national center. The central culinary symbols of the city changed from local foods (peaches) to the interplay between different regional restaurants in a cosmopolitan city.(less)
Less useful than I would have hoped. Solid as a history of smuggling in the region, but does not add much theoretically.
Tagliacozzo takes some Braude...moreLess useful than I would have hoped. Solid as a history of smuggling in the region, but does not add much theoretically.
Tagliacozzo takes some Braudellian and Scottian ideas and applies them to smuggling in the zones between English and Dutch control in maritime SE Asia. While his treatment of the differing types of illegality (some goods are by definition illegal, others are made illegal by how or where they are moved) was somewhat thoughtful, his conclusions are ultimately unsurprising.
Smugglers of polyvalent identities and allegiances plied the waters between Malaysia and Indonesia, transporting cargoes of contraband goods (drugs, guns) and people (coolies, prostitutes). As part of their colonial projects in the region, the British and Dutch authorities did their best to limit these activities through improved technologies of surveillance - mapping, patrols and registrations. For their part, the smugglers made use of local knowledge and the difficulties of terrain and currents to avoid detection. The smugglers' job was made somewhat easier (and the colonial authorities' correspondingly more complex) by the overlapping and disparate realms of control represented by the two colonial powers and their subordinate and semi-subordinate local counterparts.(less)
A flawed and somewhat boring book, but nonetheless one that makes a case for macro-history and alternatives to the standard narrative. Braudel attempt...moreA flawed and somewhat boring book, but nonetheless one that makes a case for macro-history and alternatives to the standard narrative. Braudel attempts to describe the large-scale patterns of the Mediterranean region in a long century, looking for the trends that remained fairly constant as well as the gradual changes, rather than focusing on the more immediate changes on recognizably human time-scales.(less)