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A Change in Worlds on the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands: Politics, Economies, and Environments in Northern Sichuan
     

A Change in Worlds on the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands: Politics, Economies, and Environments in Northern Sichuan

by Jack Patrick Hayes
 

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A Change in Worlds explores the environmental, economic, and political history of the Sino-Tibetan Songpan region of northern Sichuan from the late imperial Qing Dynasty to the early 21st century. A historically Tibetan region on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, with significant Han and Muslim Chinese populations, Songpan played important roles in the

Overview

A Change in Worlds explores the environmental, economic, and political history of the Sino-Tibetan Songpan region of northern Sichuan from the late imperial Qing Dynasty to the early 21st century. A historically Tibetan region on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, with significant Han and Muslim Chinese populations, Songpan played important roles in the development of western and modern China’s ethnic relations policies, forestry sector, grasslands and environmental conservation, and recent developments in eco- and ethnic tourism as part of various Chinese states. However, in spite of close associations with various Tibetan and Chinese regimes, the region also has a rich history of local independence and resilient nomadic, semi-nomadic and agricultural populations and identities. The Sino-Tibetan diversity in Songpan, partly formed by unique ecological conditions, conditioned all attempts to incorporate the region into larger and more centralized state homogenizing structures.

This historical study analyzes the social force of markets and nature in the Songpan region in concert with the political and social conflicts and compromise at the heart of changing political regimes and the area’s ethnic groups. It presents new perspectives on the social transformation and economies of Tibetans and Han Chinese from the late Qing Dynasty to Mao era and contemporary western China. It not only allows for a new understanding of how the natural environment and landscapes fit into the imagination of the Sino-Tibetan borderlands, it also figures in the challenges of negotiating ethnic and market relations among societies. The mix of complicated relations over natural environment, resources, politics and markets was at the heart of the region’s social and political infrastructures, with far-reaching implications for both historical and contemporary China.

Editorial Reviews

Emily T. Yeh
A Change in Worlds offers an incisive and richly detailed account of the socio-environmental transformation of the borderland region of Songpan from the Qing dynasty through the present. Through careful historical analysis, Hayes provides fascinating insights about Tibetan use of fire in producing the region’s pastoral landscapes, gang warfare, and opium production in the Republican period, and the contradictions between tourism and conservation in the present. The book constitutes a sustained argument for the importance of the environment in social and political history, and for decentering conceptualizations of both China and Tibet.
Bryan Tilt
A Change in Worlds is an extremely detailed and well-researched environmental and social history of the Songpan Region of Sichuan, a borderland in both a geographical and cultural sense. Using a variety of historical materials, Hayes intricately describes the dynamic environment of the region and analyzes the role of social, political and economic institutions in shaping it. The reader is left with a rich understanding of this unique region of China, along with a sense of its broader significance to the fields of history and environmental studies.
Robert B. Marks
This book addresses cutting-edge issues in the understanding of China’s history, in particular the processes of human-induced environmental change, and the ways in which environment and ethnicity in late imperial and modern China inform each other. Hayes explores how an environmentally diverse place in western China became a ‘middle ground’ for interactions among various peoples—in particular Tibetans and Han Chinese—that led ultimately to the incorporation of what had been a Tibetan dominated region into the modern Chinese state. Along the way we learn that Tibetans used fire in their mountainous environment to transform forests into pastures for their herds, leading to a more or less sustainable form of agro-pastoralism. Hayes also enlightens the reader to the multifarious ways in which the Chinese Communist state affected the local environment, economy, and society, including the most recent developments of eco- and ethno-tourism. This book is a significant contribution—providing invaluable and rare insight into this region and its people.
Tibet Foundation Newsletter
Observing the unique intersections of pivotal themes such as the balance between tourism and conservation, and the capacity of the state and the landscape, Jack Patrick Hayes offers a detailed and historical account of the changes witnessed at China's borderlands, addressing key issues such as the politics of identity and the importance of the environment. It is a comprehensive report on the shifting landscape of eastern Tibet, amid vast power struggles and the transformations of modernity.
Robert Marks
This book addresses cutting-edge issues in the understanding of China’s history, in particular the processes of human-induced environmental change, and the ways in which environment and ethnicity in late imperial and modern China inform each other. Hayes explores how an environmentally diverse place in western China became a ‘middle ground’ for interactions among various peoples—in particular Tibetans and Han Chinese—that led ultimately to the incorporation of what had been a Tibetan dominated region into the modern Chinese state. Along the way we learn that Tibetans used fire in their mountainous environment to transform forests into pastures for their herds, leading to a more or less sustainable form of agro-pastoralism. Hayes also enlightens the reader to the multifarious ways in which the Chinese Communist state affected the local environment, economy, and society, including the most recent developments of eco- and ethno-tourism. This book is a significant contribution—providing invaluable and rare insight into this region and its people.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781498550871
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
11/15/2016
Pages:
298
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Jack Patrick Hayes is lecturer in the Departments of History and Asian Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and research associate at the University of British Columbia.

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