New Perspectives on the Shanxi Merchants: Locating Histories of Capitalism along the Sino-Inner Asian Frontier
4: Education and Lifeworld in the Post-piaohao Era: The Histories of Three Private Academies of Merchant-banker Families in Central Shanxi Province, 1895-1937
Sunday, March 27, 2022
9:00am – 10:30am EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
University of Massachusetts Boston, United States
This paper examines the histories of three private academies funded and sponsored by Shanxi merchant-bankers from the late Qing to the early Republican period. Through the lens of the Duchu Academy of the Chang family in Yuci county, the Jingxin Academy of the Qu family in Qi county, and the vocational school of the Song family in Yuci county, this paper explores the lifeworlds of Shanxi merchant-banker families in the post-piaohao era at the turn of the twentieth century. Ultimately, this paper bridges the capitalist history and noncapitalist histories of Shanxi merchant-bankers and addresses a key unanswered question: how did piaohao families prepare their descendants for work and life after piaohao firms retreated from the Chinese capital market? By exploring the lifeworlds of the piaohao’s merchant-capitalists with respect to their marital, social, and cultural activities in late imperial China, I argue that the post-piaohao era should be viewed as both new capitalist and noncapitalist beginnings of piaohao families. My point of departure is to rescue the lived experience of piaohao merchant-bankers from the linear teleology of a singular global capitalist narrative in which their firms’ sole option is to “evolve into” Western-style banks.