Meng ZhangJul 6, 2022
Timber and Forestry in Qing China
Sustaining the Market
University of Washington Press 2021
Focusing on timber in Qing China (1644-1911), Dr. Meng Zhang's (Assistant Professor of History at Vanderbilt University) new book, Timber and Forestry in Qing China: Sustaining the Market (U Washington Press, 2021) traces the trade routes that connected population centers of the Lower Yangzi Delta to timber supplies on China's southwestern frontier. She documents innovative property rights systems and economic incentives that convinced landowners to invest years in growing trees. Delving into rare archives to reconstruct business histories, she considers both the formal legal mechanisms and the informal interactions that helped balance economic profit with environmental management. Of driving concern were questions of sustainability: How to maintain a reliable source of timber across decades and centuries? And how to sustain a business network across a thousand miles? This carefully constructed study makes a major contribution to Chinese economic and environmental history and to world-historical discourses on resource management, early modern commercialization, and sustainable development.
Huiying Chen is a Ph.D. candidate at University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies the history of travel in eighteenth-century China. She can be reached at hchen87 AT uic.edu