China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: This panel considers how mobility across multiple settings extensively informed state-non-state interactions in late imperial China. Each paper will focus on how government actors understood and reacted to mobility in a particular environment—seas, coasts, rivers, and land—and conversely, how non-state actors reckoned with such responses for their own aims and interests. In so doing, this panel ultimately aims to draw connections between these various mobilities and ponder their broader historical impacts.
Beginning with the sea, Guotong Li explores the importance of Ming Chinese Muslim merchants and trade institutions in connecting the vast maritime world in China and reflects upon the legacies they formed that continued well into the Qing dynasty. Moving to the shore, Chris Chung examines how Qing officials reckoned with the fluidity of coastal populations in anti-piracy policymaking during the late eighteenth-century, as well as how these peoples co-opted or resisted resulting state efforts to order the maritime frontier. Traversing water and land, Steven Miles details the aligning and conflicting interests that arose between local officials and Cantonese migrants who came to Guiping in search of opportunity via the West River system during the mid-nineteenth century. Finally, bringing the panel inland, Huiying Chen analyzes eighteenth-century Qing discussions that sought to reconcile the routine suspension of litigation processing during planting season with the need for year-round legal services for an emerging class of travelers and itinerant merchants. The discussant, Michael Szonyi, concludes with insight into how the papers might relate to or challenge each other regarding the panel’s premise.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Chris PC Chung – University of Toronto
Virtual Paper Presenter: Guotong Li – California State University, Long Beach
Virtual Paper Presenter: Steven B. Miles – Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Virtual Paper Presenter: Huiying Chen – University of Illinois Chicago