Empire and Local Worlds
A Chinese Model for Long-Term Historical Anthropology
Left Coast Press 2009
Mingming Wang, one of the most prolific anthropologists in China, has produced a work both of long-term historical anthropology and of broad social theory. In it, he traces almost a millennium of history of the southern Chinese city of Quangzhou, a major international trading entrepot in the 13th century that declined to a peripheral regional center by the end of the 19th century. But the historical trajectory understates the complex set of interrelationships between local structures and imperial agendas that played out over the course of centuries and dynasties. Using urban structure, documentary analysis, and archaeological artifacts, Wang shows how the study of Quangzhou represents a Chinese template for civilizational studies, one distinctly different from Eurocentric models propounded by such theorists as Sahlins, Wolf, and Elias.
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