2023-24 Lloyd & Susanne Rudolph Field Research Fellow
Project Title: The Qing’s Indigenous Foresters: The Qingshui River Documents and the Miao Forest Frontier, 1726-1949
This dissertation uses the case study of indigenous timber plantations in the Qing dynasty’s southwest frontier to re-interrogate current scholarship on the formation of commodity frontiers, which rests on macro-historical processes of capital accumulation or state expansion as explanatory factors. Using non-state “popular documents” written and preserved by subjects indigenous to the highlands of Qing southeastern Guizhou from the 17th century to the 20th century, this study affirms the broad outlines of the state expansionist model, while arguing that state capacity to maintain property rights and popular welfare, accommodations to forest cultivators, changing technical requirements from consumers, and shifts in commodity market integration were under-appreciated factors that had an impact in the long-run viability of a timber export based economy. These findings underline the limits of theories built on a small subset of European experiences, and affirms prior scholarship on the mixed impact of involvement in natural resource exports for peripheral economies.
Xavier Ante is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Chicago’s Department of History. He received a bachelor’s degree from New York University Shanghai, and is currently working on a dissertation on the indigenous forest industry of Guizhou province from the Qing dynasty to the Republican period.
Read more at their department profile: https://history.uchicago.edu/directory/xavier-ante