historical geography china

of 1 /1
418 CONFERENCE REPORT whether direct taxation contributed to the late-medieval recession in France. He concluded that, though the burden was very heavy indeed, in the longer term it probably stimulated urban growth and increased peasant participation in markets with lower prices. An equally important lesson in this paper was that it was necessary to observe the whole structural transformation of the medieval economy and society. To those with a lively interest in the Middle Ages but who do not pursue active research on them the habit of the cognoscenti of referring to fellow tribesmen as "medievalists", whilst understandably convenient, is unhelpful to all concerned. Whatever it meant to the seminal figures of modern history in the eighteenth century, the term Middle Ages no longer has its simultaneously romantic and vague chronological function of filling the gap between real history (Antiquity) and modern times (about AD 1500 onwards). Even its documentary mysteries are palpably less mysterious than some would have the laity believe. Just as nobody seriously requires all-purpose transformations such as "The Industrial Revolution" or "The End of the Middle Ages", still less are they to be taken as territorial markers to define the citizenship of scholars. On the whole such psychoses were absent from this meeting though some of the methodology seemed to spring from a slightly sheltered turn of mind. To this member of the laity this was all rather refreshing and enjoyable. Rodney Hilton's warm vote of thanks to the convenor of this excellent gathering, Bruce Campbell (Belfast), was richly deserved. University of Liverpool PAUL LAXTON Historical geography in China A collection of essays by Hou Ren-Zhi, of the Department of Geography of Peking University, provides a portrait of historical geography in China today. Theory and practice in historical geography (1979; second edition 1980; pub- lished, in Chinese, by the Shanghai People's Press) emphasises that before the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949 historical geography in China was primarily a study of changing political boundaries and of place names. Subsequently, historical geography has followed the principles of dialectical and historical materialism and has pursued research directly related to China's reconstruction. Hou Ren-Zhi's book explores two main themes: firstly, rele- vance of the historical geography of Chinese cities (especially Beijing) to their modern development; secondly, studies of man's role in the desertification of northwestern China during the last two thousand years, as contributions to discovering ways of checking that process today. Historical geography in China is now much more theoretical and much more practical than it was forty years ago.

Upload: dangkhuong

Post on 30-Dec-2016

213 views

Category:

Documents


0 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

Page 1: Historical geography China

418 CONFERENCE REPORT

whether direct taxation contributed to the late-medieval recession in France. He concluded that, though the burden was very heavy indeed, in the longer term it probably stimulated urban growth and increased peasant participation in markets with lower prices. An equally important lesson in this paper was that it was necessary to observe the whole structural transformation of the medieval economy and society.

To those with a lively interest in the Middle Ages but who do not pursue active research on them the habit of the cognoscenti of referring to fellow tribesmen as "medievalists", whilst understandably convenient, is unhelpful to all concerned. Whatever it meant to the seminal figures of modern history in the eighteenth century, the term Middle Ages no longer has its simultaneously romantic and vague chronological function of filling the gap between real history (Antiquity) and modern times (about AD 1500 onwards). Even its documentary mysteries are palpably less mysterious than some would have the laity believe. Just as nobody seriously requires all-purpose transformations such as "The Industrial Revolution" or "The End of the Middle Ages", still less are they to be taken as territorial markers to define the citizenship of scholars. On the whole such psychoses were absent from this meeting though some of the methodology seemed to spring from a slightly sheltered turn of mind. To this member of the laity this was all rather refreshing and enjoyable. Rodney Hilton's warm vote of thanks to the convenor of this excellent gathering, Bruce Campbell (Belfast), was richly deserved.

University of Liverpool PAUL LAXTON

Historical geography in China

A collection of essays by Hou Ren-Zhi, of the Department of Geography of Peking University, provides a portrait of historical geography in China today. Theory and practice in historical geography (1979; second edition 1980; pub- lished, in Chinese, by the Shanghai People's Press) emphasises that before the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949 historical geography in China was primarily a study of changing political boundaries and of place names. Subsequently, historical geography has followed the principles of dialectical and historical materialism and has pursued research directly related to China's reconstruction. Hou Ren-Zhi's book explores two main themes: firstly, rele- vance of the historical geography of Chinese cities (especially Beijing) to their modern development; secondly, studies of man's role in the desertification of northwestern China during the last two thousand years, as contributions to discovering ways of checking that process today. Historical geography in China is now much more theoretical and much more practical than it was forty years ago.