Web shopping: Newspaper article on Xinjiang’s economic history

July 15, 2009
"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

If you want to know more about the historical and economic origins of Uighur’s unrest in China last weeks, here is a good article on Xinjiang’s history by Edward Wong, a New York Times journalist.

Goldstone J. (2003) Agricultural Revolution in China

March 22, 2009

Goldstone, Jack A. (2003) “Feeding the people, starving the state: China’s Agricultural Revolution of the 17th/18th Centuries”, paper for the EHES Istanbul conference, 43p.


This article is available online


The Chinese population jumped from 120 to 350 million between 1620 and 1800. Many historians have assumed that the necessary growth of the agricultural output had been reached through a process of “involution” (i.e. not through gains in labour productivity, but thanks to increased effort; p.1). This stagnation of the output per person has been seen as the reverse of what happened in England at the same time: the agricultural revolution (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Atwell W. S. (1986) Seventeenth-Century Crisis in China and Japan

June 22, 2008

Atwell William S. (Feb. 1986). “Some Observations on the ‘Seventeenth-Century Crisis’ in China and Japan”, The Journal of Asian Studies, 45/2, 223-244.

Causes the most often advanced by scholars to explain the Ming’s collapse of 1644:
• Wan-li emperor (1580-1644) irresponsible behaviour,
• the cost of war against Japan,
• the defeat of Liaotung in 1619 against the Manchus,
• the “reign of terror” of the eunuch Wei Chung-hsien in 1625-6.
On the other hand, the first century of the Tokugawa is often presented as a golden age. But that contrast ought not to undermine the fact that Chinese and Japanese history are mutually intelligible. What was deferent was the response to a common situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Goldstone J.A. (1988) East and West in the 17th century

March 23, 2008

Goldstone Jack A. (1988) “East and West in the Seventeenth Century: Political Crises in Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming China”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 30/1, 103-142.

Criticism of the previous interpretations:

  • Too Eurocentric: they assume that the West was the epicentre of a crisis due to the rise of capitalism and of the modern state (Marx and Weber). Significantly, the crisis seems to have had more consequences in the East than in the West. The simultaneity of the English revolution, the Anatolian turmoil and the end of the Ming is not either merely casual: “behind all of these events lay a common causal framework rooted in a wide-ranging ecological crisis” (104). The author intends to “note certain cogent similarities that make comparative analysis possible” (105). Read the rest of this entry »

Kelly M. (1997) The dynamics of Smithian growth

February 24, 2008

KELLY Morgan (1997) “The Dynamics of Smithian Growth”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112/3, 939-964.

Smithian progress (i.e. the understanding that specialization causes output to rise first articulated by Adam Smith) is neglected by economists because it is perceived as gradual (unlike the sudden growth caused by innovation, learning by doing and private capital accumulation). But the author dismisses the idea that Smithian growth is necessarily gradual. Read the rest of this entry »