A Historical Geography Of China

Overview

The Chinese earth is pervasively humanized through long occupation. Signs of man's presence vary from the obvious to the extremely subtle. The building of roads, bridges, dams, and factories, and the consolidation of farm holdings alter the Chinese landscape and these alterations seem all the more conspicuous because they introduce features that are not distinctively Chinese. In contrast, traditional forms and architectural relics escape our attention because they are so identified with the Chinese scene that ...

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Overview

The Chinese earth is pervasively humanized through long occupation. Signs of man's presence vary from the obvious to the extremely subtle. The building of roads, bridges, dams, and factories, and the consolidation of farm holdings alter the Chinese landscape and these alterations seem all the more conspicuous because they introduce features that are not distinctively Chinese. In contrast, traditional forms and architectural relics escape our attention because they are so identified with the Chinese scene that they appear to be almost outgrowths of nature. Describing the natural order of human beings in the context of the Chinese earth and civilization, A Historical Geography of China narrates the evolution of the Chinese landscape from prehistoric times to the present.

Tuan views landscape as a visible expression of man's efforts to gain a living and achieve a measure of stability in the constant flux of nature. The book ranges the period of time from Peking man to the epoch of Mao Tse-tung. It moves through the ancient and modern dynasties, the warlords and conquests, earthquakes, devastating floods, climatic reversals, and staggering civil wars to the impact of Western civilization and industrialization. The emphasis throughout is on the effect of a changing environment on succeeding cultures.

This classic study attempts to analyze and describe traditional Chinese settlement patterns and architecture. The result is a clear and succinct examination of the development of the Chinese landscape over thousands of years. It describes the ways the Communist regime worked to alter the face of the nation. This work will quickly prove to be crucial reading for all who are interested in this pivotal nation. It goes far beyond the usual political spectrum, into the physical and social roots of Chinese history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"High school to college level libraries strong in Chinese studies or geography will find this a fine survey in Chinese studies or geography will find this a fine survey of the Chinese landscape, its alterations, and its evolution from early to modern times. Traditional Chinese settlement patterns and architecture are considered in an in-depth treatment of how social and political changes affected these patterns. Sociology libraries will find it a winner." — The Midwest Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202362007
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/15/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Yi-Fu Tuan is professor emeritus of geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of many books including Place, Art and, Self, Dear Colleague: Common and Uncommon Observations, and Who am I? : An Autobiography of Emotion, Mind, and Spirit.

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Table of Contents


Editor's Preface     v
List of Illustrations     x
Introduction     1
The Role of Nature and of Man
Nature: landforms, climate, vegetation     9
The chequerboard pattern: tectonics and landforms     9
The unstable earth     13
Tectonic and hydrologic changes in western China     13
Loess in the middle Huang Ho basin     14
Deposition and subsidence in eastern China     17
Changes in the course of the Huang Ho     18
Climate of western and northwestern China     19
Climate of humid and subhumid China     21
Climatic fluctuations     23
Natural vegetation     24
Man's role in nature     29
Soil processes: natural and man-induced     29
Effect on vegetation cover     31
Causes of deforestation     37
Landscape and Life in Chinese Antiquity
Prehistoric scenes     45
The well-watered landscape of the prehistoric north     46
The appearance of agriculture     47
Late Neolithic landscapes     48
Yang-shao     48
Lung-shan     51
Early regional development     53
The wet environment of the North Chinaplain     53
Shang culture     55
The cities     55
The countryside     57
Western Chou: landscape and life     59
Eastern Chou     62
Irrigation works and agricultural techniques     62
Commerce and transportation     64
The development of cities     65
Nomads and landscape desiccation in the North     69
Cultures of Central and South China     69
Landscape and Life in Imperial China
From the Ch'in to the T'ang dynasty     75
The Ch'in emire and landscape     75
The Former Han empire: population and land use     79
Agricultural techniques and landscapes     81
Territorial expansion: new products and scenes     84
The Later Han empire: population changes and migrations     85
Land use on the great estates     86
The Period of Disunion     88
Buddhist contributions to the landscape     91
Sui dynasty: population change and engineered landscapes     94
T'ang dynasty: changing frontier scenes     95
The economy and landscape of prosperity     98
Sensitivity to nature and conservation     100
Forested landscapes of T'ang China      101
The development of cities     102
Architecture and landscape     109
The 'ahistorical' landscape     109
The bridge     109
The house     113
The courtyard     115
Nature preserves, parks and gardens     121
From the Sung to the Ch'ing dynasty     126
The Sung period: agricultural economy and landscape     127
Effect of the Northern Sung industrial revolution     130
Commerce and the shaping of the Sung cities     132
The northern antithesis: Cambaluc or Ta-tu     135
Ming and Ch'ing urbanization     135
Changes in rate of population growth     137
North China under the Mongols     137
Population growth and agricultural expansion: Ming and Ch'ing dynasties     138
Landscape changes in three areas     140
North China     140
Ssu-ch'uan basin     142
Southern (Yangtze) highlands     143
Tradition and Change in Modern China
Stability and innovation: 1850-1950     147
Types of landscape: c. 1930     148
Loessic uplands     150
North China plain     151
Ssu-ch'uan basin     154
Yangtze plains     155
Southwest China: Yun-nan     159
South China     160
Types of population and landscape change     162
Natural population increase and landscape change     163
Natural and manmade disasters     164
Expansion and adaptation at the frontiers: Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria     168
Impact of the West     177
Early industrialization     177
South Manchuria's 'industrial landscape'     178
Urban manufacturing     179
Treaty ports     179
Impact of modernized cities on countryside     182
Communist ideology and landscape     186
Stages in agrarian reform     186
Two villages in transition     192
Afforestation, erosion control, and water conservancy     195
The development and relocation of industries     198
The growth of cities     201
References     205
Index     221
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