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Reviews 207 Kenneth Pomeranz. TheMakingofa HinterUnd: State, Society, and Economy in Inland North China, 1853-1937. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. xxiii, 336 pp. Hardcover $40.00. Building upon extensive research for a 1988 doctoral dissertation, Kennetìi Pomeranz has produced an important and valuable study of die political economy of one region in northern China. The site ofhis focus is Huang-Yun during the late decades of the Qing dynasty and those ofthe early Republic. As he is careful to explain, Huang-Yun is a region that "had no official name" but had, by the beginning ofdie twentieth century, approximately fifteen million people. It included parts of Zhili and Henan, but mostiy western Shandong, and was intersected by the Yellow River (once displaced in 1852-1853), and the Grand Canal. Until the late nineteenth century, it was, moreover, part ofthe core ofthe North China macroregion (in G.William Skinner's delineation), but with the increase in foreign pressure and influence, as well as a host ofdomestic (national and regional) circumstances, changes, and responses, it became effectively distinguished by a north-south subdivision. For heuristic purposes, that division ofHuang-Yun becomes a major consideration throughout this book, shaping the author's analysis by providing him with ample and intriguing evidence to support many useful and valuable conclusions and as strong a case for studying local history as I can imagine. The key differences between northern and southern Huang-Yun are several and are crucial in explaining much ofhow the two subregions experienced the period in question . Pomeranz describes die northern districts as comprising weak communities with equally weak elites that were easily penetrated by outsiders (more permeable ), and were more likely to adapt successfully to changing conditions and to participate more extensively in horizontal networks. In the south he finds stronger villages and rural elites, a society less permeable and less able to adapt, yet enjoying greater access to vertical networks and the largess ofthe state. Again and again throughout this book the reader meets the consequences ofthese differences, and finds a history ofmodern China in which die state, for all its weaknesses, was still able to affect society; a history in which different configurations of elites across a relatively small area helped define possibilities and shape decisions, but not uniformly ; and a history in which agents ofchange met with tough resistance in some locales (as in southern Huang-Yun), but fared much better elsewhere (as in© 1995 by University northern Huang-Yun). The richness oflocal phenomena, as revealed and emphaofHawai ?Presss¡ze(j^Pomeranz, provides a strong challenge to narrow, top-down history. In terms of underlying and persistent themes, Pomeranz stresses three: first, Huang-Yun was increasingly, though unevenly, integrated into newer markets as- 208 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 sociated widi coastal treaty ports such as Yantai and Qingdao; second, diis integration was accompanied by the disintegration oflong-standing economic relations tied to the Grand Canal, with no new network emerging as a replacement; and diird, the national government, owing to a "fundamental change in statecraft ... to a mercantilist orientation" (p. 4), abandoned its historic responsibility to maintain the area's hydraulic system involving die Grand Canal and the Yellow River, with profound economic consequences. In the process, Huang-Yun was transformed from being part of the macroregion's core to becoming part ofits periphery, a development diat, in Pomeranz' hands, suggests both the value and limitations of macroregional approaches as well as the need to be more sensitive to spatial dynamics, the contrasting logics at work in any society, the paradoxical role ofthe state as both extractor and provider, and the contradictory effects of "modernization" and imperialism. Like a trained hound sniffing after its prize, Pomeranz relendessly, but intelligenüy, pursues evidence ofwhat it was that Chinese did in die context widiin which diey found themselves. Context, in fact, becomes contexts, and die simplicities ofvarious theories, whether those of macroregionalists or national marketeers, are rendered less secure and informative in the face of the author's ground-level analysis. The Making ofa Hinterland contains an introduction, five chapters, a conclusion , three appendixes, and a substantial bibliography. The introduction properly and clearly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 207-209
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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