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-82ON WATER CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT DURING THE MING AND CH'ING PERIODS: A REVIEW ARTICLE Mark Elvin Institute for Oriental Studies Oxford , England The problem of the relationships between the ecology and technology of watersystems on the one hand, and the nature of the human organizations that have managed them on the other, has been of recurring interest to historians of China. The first systematic attempts to deal with this problem were of course K. A. Wittfogel's Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas (Leipzig: 1931) and Chi Ch'ao-ting's Key Economic Areas in Chinese History (London: 1936). Theoretical discussion in the West during the post-war period has tended until recently to be sidetracked into polemics over the later and less convincing formulations of Wittfogel's Oriental Despotism (New Haven: 1957). Fortunately this phase now seems to be coming to an end, and there is the cheering prospect that the complex and important subject of water-management in China will begin to receive the serious analytical treatment that it deserves. Among studies on specific localities or specialized topics the following at least deserve mention: CT. Hu's article on the Yellow River administration under the Ch'ing (1955), D. Twitchett's two articles on T'ang irrigation (1957, 1961), M. Elvin's paper on water-conservancy in Sung-chiang prefecture (1968), T.J. Liu's article on dike construction in Ching-chou (1970), B. Pasternak's study of irrigation in two Taiwanese villages (1972), and K. Flessel's This is a review article of Morita Akira, Shindai suiri-shi kenkyS (Studies in the History of Water-Management under the Ch'ing) (Tokyo: Aki shobô, 1974), 566 pp., Y. 8,000. -83monograph on the Yellow River in Sung times (1974). There is an exposition of many basic hydraulic techniques in volume IV:3 of J. Needham's Science and Civilisation in China (Cambridge: 1971); and D. Perkins, Agricultural Development in China, 1368-1968 (Chicago: 1968) provides a statistical survey of water-management projects in Ming and Ch'ing times. Many other monographs have valuable incidental insights on the relationships between water-management and social structure. Examples, out of many, are H. T. Fei, Peasant Life in China (London: 1939); W. Eberhard, Conquerors and Rulers. Social Forces in Medieval China (Leiden: second edition, 1965); E.S..Rawski, Agricultural Change and the Peasant Economy of South China (Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1972); and R. Myers' article on "Cooperation in Traditional Agriculture" in D. Perkins, ed., China's Modern Economy in Historical Perspective (Stanford: 1975). Compared with this interesting but restricted output, Japanese scholarship since the war has produced an impressive volume of writings on water-management in China. The pioneers of this enterprise seem to have been Shimizu Morimitsu (1950) and, above all, Toyoshima Shizuhide (1956), who started a controversy in the pages of the journal Rekishigaku kenkyu that was the origin of most subse2 quent research, including the book here under review. There is new a special periodical, Chûgoku suiri-shi kenkyu, devoted exclusively to the subject and providing bibliographical guidance to what is fast becoming an unwieldy litera3 ture. During the 1960s Professor Merita Akira has played the leading part in Japan as regards the historical study of Chinese water-management, especially in the Ch'ing dynasty. The publication in book form of his major articles on the subject , somewhat reshaped and revised and accompanied by a bibliographical introduction and an analytical final chapter, offers us an appropriate occasion to salute the endeavors of our Japanese colleagues, who left us far behind in this -84field at the moment, and also to try to sum up what has been achieved and what remains to be done. If I am somewhat critical at times, I hope that the author will understand that this in no significant way diminishes my respect for his achievement. The Structure of Analysis Like many Japanese historians, Morita proceeds on what might be termed the principle of "the introduction of material." Substantial passages from the original Chinese texts, untranslated but partially paraphrased, are presented under topical headings usch as "organization" and "finance," following an approximately chronological order. This is a method that was sometimes used, to some extent, by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3257
Print ISSN
0884-3236
Pages
pp. 82-103
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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