A Great Undertaking: Mechanization and Social Change in a by Jeff Hornibrook

By Jeff Hornibrook

Jeff Hornibrook offers a distinct, microcosmic examine the method of industrialization in a single chinese language neighborhood on the flip of the 20 th century. Industrialization got here overdue to China, yet was once eventually embraced and hastened to assist the state's strategic and army pursuits. In Pingxiang County within the highlands of Jiangxi Province, coalmining was once seasonal paintings; peasants rented mines from lineage leaders to paintings after the harvest. those traditions replaced in 1896 whilst the courtroom made up our minds that the county's mines have been crucial for industrialization. overseas engineers and chinese language officers arrived to set up the hot social and fiscal order required for mechanized mining, one who could swap issues for individuals from all degrees of society. The outsiders built a Westernized manufacturing facility city that sat uneasily in the latest neighborhood. Mistreatment of the neighborhood inhabitants, together with the pressured buy of gentry-held houses and the mixing of peasants into factory-style hard work schemes, sparked a sequence of rebellions that wounded the empire and tore on the textile of the neighborhood. utilizing tales present in memoirs of elite chinese language and international engineers, correspondence among gentry and robust officers, travelogues of yankee missionaries and engineers, in addition to different assets, Hornibrook bargains a desirable heritage of the social and political results of industrialization in Pingxiang County.

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Extra info for A Great Undertaking: Mechanization and Social Change in a Late Imperial Chinese Coalmining Community

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16 The local lineage system included both true patrilines as well as fictive relations that were organized by immigrant families to protect themselves and provide access to land and wealth. In an entry in the gazetteer, one author explained that tu, or small communities, were organized as lineages and functioned as such: The native tu of Pingxiang each started from its remote ancestor, and his sons and grandsons continued [to live in the area] for generations. Each tu established an ancestral temple and the people of the ten jia gathered once a year to worship their ancestors.

They then lit the coal and allowed it to burn at a low temperature for two to three days. 55 Coked coal’s burning temperature was lower than the much harder and purer anthracite. However, when it was fired it put out a constant heat with little smoke that allowed for controlled smelting. 56 Moreover, volatility of the coal was greatly reduced and therefore it could be left unburned longer. And, because the coked coal was pure, it could be transported more cheaply than if the coal was sent with shale and other heavy impurities.

Neither the elites nor the nonelites could be coerced to change their strategies employing the market or technological improvements. 3 Moreover, even as external forces increased demand for the country’s manufactures, the transformation from “feudalism” to “capitalism” required the internal changes experienced in England. 4 This chapter examines the social relations of production in Pingxiang County, showing how, like France, a weak state and well-entrenched peasantry led to a stable though sluggish economy that failed to alter the rice and coal markets or transform the county’s economy.

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