Cover: State or Merchant in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 273

State or Merchant

Political Economy and Political Process in 1740s China

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Product Details


$54.95 • £43.95 • €49.50

ISBN 9780674022621

Publication Date: 09/30/2006


523 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

17 tables; one map; two line drawings

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

[T]his masterfully crafted book deserves a prominent position in both the political and economic histories of late imperial China.—Yingcong Dai, Chinese Historical Review

Dunstan brings to life the fascinating story of the domestic Chinese grain trade during the 1740s, in particular the imperial state’s attempt to control the buying and storing of grain in granaries throughout the country for the purpose of grain price stabilization and famine prevention. Her excellent, well-written analysis rests on the careful reading of a vast amount of archival documents written by Qing dynasty officials, and it invites the reader ‘to spend time with them’ in order to understand the thoughts, complex decision-making processes, and actions of Confucian bureaucrats. Dunstan’s book approaches the problem of the state’s role in the grain trade from the viewpoint of Chinese intellectual and political history but also addresses issues of interest to economic historians. Her study focuses on government actions against hoarders and the surprisingly challenging debate within the imperial bureaucracy about the state’s policy of stockpiling grain and interference in the market. However, as the author convincingly argues, changing fiscal and militaristic priorities of the Qianlong emperor, rather than the decision to trust the market, were the reasons behind the decrease in state famine relief in mid-18th-century China.—E. Köll, Choice

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