Coping with Calamity: Environmental Change and Peasant Response in Central China, 1736-1949
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296pp. January 2015
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Coping with Calamity: Environmental Change and Peasant Response in Central China, 1736-1949
Author: Zhang, Jiayan;
The Jianghan plain in central China is shaped by its relationship with water. Once a prolific rice-growing region that drew immigrants to its fertile paddy fields, since the eighteenth century it has become prone to devastating flooding and waterlogging. Over time, population pressures and dike building left more and more people in the region vulnerable to its frequent water calamities. The first environmental and socioeconomic history of the region, Coping with Calamity considers the Jianghan plain's volatile environment, the constant challenges it presented to peasants, and the peasants' often ingenious and sophisticated responses, in the Qing and Republican periods.

28 illustrations
For sale only in the United States
Published in association with Univeristy of British Columbia Press
Coping with Calamity is the first English-language book on the ecology, economy, and society of the Jianghan Plain, one of the most important agricultural areas in late imperial and modern China. It is unique in interpreting rural economic and social institutions in modern China using an environmental approach. Zhang’s book is essential reading for students of rural China and modern Chinese history.” —Huaiyin Li, author of Village China under Socialism and Reform: A Micro-History, 1948-2008

“The environmental history of China is still a much under-studied area, and Zhang’s book is a very welcome and important contribution to the field. He has consulted an extensive array of sources and has also lived and worked on the land of this region, which gives him unique insight. His empathy for its people and his understanding of the impact of the environment on every level of their lives permeates the discussion, adding depth to the scholarship.”— Laura Newby, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford
Author: Zhang, Jiayan;
Jiayan Zhang is an associate professor of history at Kennesaw State University.



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