Two books on microcredit

  • La microfinance et ses dérives. Emanciper, exploiter ou discipliner ? Editions Demopolis, par Isabelle Guérin (IRD-Cessma, associée à l’Institut Français de Pondichéry et au Cermi)
  • La vraie révolution du microcrédit, Editions Odile Jacob, par Jean-Michel Servet (IHEID, associé au Cessma et au Cermi)

The two books will be presented at the Université populaire et citoyenne du CNAM, March 18, 2015, 6 pm.

Isabelle Guérin’s book will be presented at:
-Toulouse, on March 4, 6 pm at the Ombres Blanches bookstore (
– Nantes, March 17, 6 pm at the Institut d’Etudes Avancées (

One Hundred Years of Servitude

One Hundred Years of Servitude, Political economy of Tea Plantations in Colonial Assam, Conférence de Rana P. Behal (University of Delhi), avec le soutien de l’AFHMT et du CEIAS.

Mercredi 12 février, 14h-17h, EHESS – Salle 662, 190-198 avenue de France, 75013 Paris
Métro : Quai de la Gare (6) ou Bibliothèque (14)

L’ouvrage récemment publié par Rana P. Behal (One Hundred Years of Servitude – Political Economy of Tea Plantations in Colonial Assam, Tulia Books, New Delhi) revient sur un siècle d’histoire dans les plantations de thé de la vallée d’Assam en Inde, durant la domination coloniale britannique. Les six chapitres du livre étudient la période des années 1840 au milieu du XXe siècle. Au cours de celle-ci, plus de deux millions de travailleurs migrants, soumis à un régime d’asservissement contractuel (indentured servitude), produisirent dans ces plantations le thé destiné à un commerce international de plus en plus lucratif.

La présentation sera suivie d’un débat introduit par ALESSANDRO STANZIANI, Directeur d’études, EHESS-CNRS, CRH.

Contacts : Paul Boulland / Vanessa Caru

New Series in Labour History

Amsterdam University Press is announcing the birth of a new Series entitled “Social Histories of Work in Asia”.

The objective of the series is to encourage historical studies into the role and the position of labour in the dynamics of Asian societies, preferably from a longue durée perspective. The series will encourage studies into different types of labour (indentured, share cropping, self-employed, casual, precarious etc.) in different economic and cultural contexts. The range of themes includes the circulation of labour, free and unfree labour, gender and labour relations, labour conditions and labour laws and collective action. The series will include work from different humanities and social science disciplines that approach their subject from an historical angle.

For more information, click here

[New Book] After Oriental Despotism, by Stanziani

9781472533395We are glad to announce : After Oriental Despotism. Eurasian Growth in a Global Perspective, By Alessandro Stanziani, Bloomsbury, 2014, 192 p.

More on the publisher website

The concepts of economic backwardness, Asiatic despotism and orientalism have strongly influenced perceptions of modernization, democracy and economic growth over the last three centuries. This book provides an original view of Russian and Asian history that views both in a global perspective. Via this analysis, Alessandro Stanziani opens new dimensions in the study of state formation, the global slave trade, warfare and European and Asian growth.

After Oriental Despotism questions conventional oppositions between Europe and Asia. By revisiting the history of Eurasia in this context, the book offers a serious challenge to existing ideas about the aims and goals of economic growth.
Table Of Contents
Introduction: The Scope and Aims
1. The Historical Dimension of Economic Backwardness
2. Beyond Asiatic Despotism: Territorial Power and State Construction in Eurasia
3. The Power of the Steppe: the Mongol Heritage and the Expansion of the Muscovy
4. Slavery and Trade in Central Asia and Russia
5. Nor Feudalism or Capitalism : Agrarian Markets under Coercion
6. Beyond Economic Backwardness. Labor and Growth in Eurasia in the Long Nineteenth Century Conclusion : Russia in a Globalizing World Bibliography Index
“By revisiting the history of Russia and Eurasia in the context of global history, Stanziani is successful in breaking a number of our preconceptions. Indispensable for those who are keen to reconsider the conventional narrative and understanding of the history of the world.” – Haneda Masashi, Professor of History, University of Tokyo, Japan

“After Oriental Despotism is a fascinating and ground-breaking study of human bondage in Russia and Central Asia… This is a pioneering study of Russian serfdom in Eurasian context.” – Elise Wirtschafter, Professor of History, California State Polytechnic University, USA

“A wide ranging account that links power and the perception of power to the historical dynamics of Eurasian societies from the sixteenth century. Alessandro Stanziani is particularly instructive on labour controls and the related relationship between coercion and economic growth. An important work.” – Jeremy Black MBE, Professor of History at the University of Exeter, UK and author of Beyond the Military Revolution: War in the Seventeenth-Century World and War in the Eighteenth-Century World

“At a moment when some of the most repressive regimes see the fastest economic growth, it is time to revisit our cherished notions about the connections between freedom and economic development, between democracy and capitalism. To do so, Stanziani disentangles the economic history of Russia during the past few centuries — usually considered to be exhibit A in any accounts of backwardness–and finds that its economic performance was much better than we have been led to believe and that it succeeded on the back of particularly coercive forms of labor mobilization, and autocratic political institutions. The disconcerting lesson of this path-breaking book is that economic growth can take on many different forms, and be channeled by very different institutions. Freedom, democracy and liberal institutions are neither a precondition for modern economic growth nor an automatic outcome of it. A must read for anyone interested in global economic history.” – Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University, USA and author of Empire of Cotton: The Global Origins of Modern Capitalism (2014)
– See more at:

[New Book] Sailors, Slaves, and Immigrants, by Stanziani

9781137448453We are glad to announce the publication of Sailors, Slaves, and immigrants. Bondage in the Indian Ocean World, 1750-1914, by Alessandro Stanziani (Palgrave McMillan, Sept. 2014)

see on the publisher’s webpage


Slaves, convicts, indentured immigrants, and unfree seamen have traveled the world’s oceans at many times and places throughout human history. Across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, this bondage took divergent forms and exhibited a range of historical dynamics. In spite of this variety, the conventional Atlantic World historical paradigm has largely shaped our understanding of modernity as being defined by exploration and discovery, European dominance, global capitalism, and the transition from slavery to free labor. Not only does this perspective evince a Eurocentric emphasis on the ‘uniqueness’ of the West, but it is increasingly contested even for the Atlantic itself. This provocative study contrasts the romantic conflation of freedom and the sea with the complex labor relationships of seamen, slaves, and immigrants in the Indian Ocean during the long nineteenth century. In the process, it advances a new framework for understanding labor, bondage, and modernization.


1. Colonial Studies, Area Studies, and the Historical Meaning of the Indian Ocean
2. Seamen in France and the French Empire: Heirs to the Galley Slave or Forerunners of the Social Security System?
3. Sailors in the British Empire
4. Slaveries and Emancipation
5. Immigrants and Planters in the Reunion Island
6. From British Servants to Indentured Immigrants: The Case of Mauritius


‘Stanziani’s important study demonstrates that even those nations that struggled against slavery accepted major limits on the freedom of labor. He makes clear that both in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere, on land and sea, most laboring men and women were in some ways bound.’ – Martin Klein, Professor Emeritus of African Studies, University of Toronto, Canada’

This is a highly original, provocative, and powerfully argued book that brings together a number of vibrant and dynamic historiographical debates. Stanziani successfully challenges a number of ideas on sea bound labor that derive from the existing scholarship’s exaggerated focus on the Atlantic Ocean. He convincingly shows that in the world of the Indian Ocean there was no clear passage from slavery to wage labor but rather the coexistence of different forms of bondage, dependence and servitude. A highly welcomed contribution to the burgeoning field of global labor history.’ – Andreas Eckert, Professor and Chair of African History, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

Publication DateSeptember 2014
FormatsHardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF)
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
SeriesPalgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies

New publications

 Nile Green, Bombay Islam. The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840–1915, Cambridge University Press, 2013, 344 p.

9781107627796As a thriving port city, nineteenth-century Bombay attracted migrants from across India and beyond. Nile Green’s Bombay Islam traces the ties between industrialization, imperialism, and the production of religion to show how Muslim migration from the oceanic and continental hinterlands of Bombay in this period fueled demand for a wide range of religious suppliers, as Christian missionaries competed with Muslim religious entrepreneurs for a stake in the new market. Enabled by a colonial policy of non-intervention in religious affairs, and powered by steam travel and vernacular printing, Bombay’s Islamic productions were exported as far as South Africa and Iran. Connecting histories of religion, labour, and globalization, the book examines the role of ordinary people – mill hands and merchants – in shaping the demand that drove the market. By drawing on hagiographies, travelogues, doctrinal works, and poems in Persian, Urdu, and Arabic, Bombay Islam unravels a vernacular modernity that saw people from across the Indian Ocean drawn into Bombay’s industrial economy of enchantment.

More information on CUP online

Daniel Marston, The Indian Army and the End of the Raj, Cambridge UNiversity Press, 2014, 397 p. 

9780521899758The Partition of British India in 1947 resulted in the establishment of the independent states of India and Pakistan and the end of the British Raj. The decision to divide British India along religious lines led to widespread upheaval and communal violence in the period leading up to and following the official day of independence, 15 August 1947. In this book, Daniel Marston provides a unique examination of the role of the Indian army in post-World War II India. He draws upon extensive research into primary source documents and interviews with veterans of the events of 1947 to provide fresh insight into the vital part that the Indian Army played in preserving law and order in the region. This rigorous book fills a significant gap in the historiography of the British in India and will be invaluable to those studying the British Empire and South Asia more generally.

More information on CUP online

Min Ye, Diasporas and Foreign Direct Investment in China and India, Cambridge University Press, 2014

9781107054196This book offers a comparative and historical analysis of foreign direct investment (FDI) liberalization in China and India and explains how the return of these countries’ diasporas affects such liberalization. It examines diasporic investment from Western FDIs and finds that diasporas, rather than Western nations, have fueled globalization in the two Asian giants. In China, diasporas contributed the lion’s share of FDI inflows. In India, returned diasporas were bridges for, and initiators of, Western investment at home. Min Ye illustrates that diasporic entrepreneurs helped to build China into the world’s manufacturing powerhouse and that Indian diasporas facilitated their homeland’s success in software services development.

More information on CUP online

Lucy Eldersveld Murphy, Great Lakes Creoles. A French-Indian Community on the Northern Borderlands, Prairie du Chien, 1750–1860, Cambridge University Press, 2014, 326 p

9781107052864A case study of one of America’s many multi-ethnic border communities, Great Lakes Creoles builds upon recent research on gender, race, ethnicity, and politics as it examines the ways that the old fur trade families experienced and responded to the colonialism of United States expansion. Lucy Murphy examines Indian history with attention to the pluralistic nature of American communities and the ways that power, gender, race, and ethnicity were contested and negotiated in them. She explores the role of women as mediators shaping key social, economic, and political systems, as well as the creation of civil political institutions and the ways that men of many backgrounds participated in and influenced them. Ultimately, The Great Lakes Creoles takes a careful look at Native people and their complex families as active members of an American community in the Great Lakes region.

More information on CUP online

[Book] Fighting for Living

fighting-for-a-living-Fighting for a Living. A Comparative History of Military Labour 1500-2000, Erik-Jan Zürcher, ed., Amsterdam University Press 2013. 688 pp.

Historians have long overlooked the labour involved in soldiering. With the publication of Fighting for a Living, the world of military workers is brought to the forefront of scholarly inquiry.

This new publication investigates the circumstances that have produced starkly different systems of recruiting and employing soldiers in different parts of the globe over the last 500 years, on the basis of case studies from Europe, Africa, America, the Middle East and Asia.
The twenty contributions to this volume undertake a systematic comparative analysis of military labour, addressing two distinct, and normally quite separate, communities: labour historians and military historians.
Fighting for a Living is the first volume of IISH’s new book series: Work around the Globe: Historical Comparisons and Connections, published by Amsterdam University Press.For optimal availability for readers all over the world, volumes in this series are published online in open access.

It is also included in the pilot project of Knowledge Unlatched, a collaborate initiative enabling open access books, helping stakeholders to work together for a sustainable open future for specialist scholarly books. This includes free access for end users, to ensure optimal availability for readers all over the world.

[Books] Announcing “Bondage” by A. Stanziani

Alessandro Stanziani just published Bondage. Labor and Rights in Eurasia from the Sixteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries. New York, Oxford : Berghahn, (International Studies in Social History Volume 24), 2014, 258 p.

“For the first time, this book provides the global history of labor in Central Eurasia, Russia, Europe, and the Indian Ocean between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. It contests common views on free and unfree labor, and compares the latter to many Western countries where wage conditions resembled those of domestic servants. This gave rise to extreme forms of dependency in the colonies, not only under slavery, but also afterwards in form of indentured labor in the Indian Ocean and obligatory labor in Africa. The author shows that unfree labor and forms of economic coercion were perfectly compatible with market development and capitalism, proven by the consistent economic growth that took place all over Eurasia between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries. This growth was labor intensive: commercial expansion, transformations in agriculture, and the first industrial revolution required more labor, not less. Finally, Stanziani demonstrates that this world did not collapse after the French Revolution or the British industrial revolution, as is commonly assumed, but instead between 1870 and 1914, with the second industrial revolution and the rise of the welfare state.”

Preview on Google Books / Full pdf cover

Table of contents



The Scope and Main Argument of this Book
The Legal Status and Rights of Labor in Russia and Europe
Serfdom in a Comparative Perspective
Global, Local, Imperial: Scales of Analysis

Part I. Bondage Imagined

Chapter 1. Second Serfdom and Wage Earners in European and Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to the Mid-nineteenth Century
The Eighteenth Century: Forced Labor between Reform and Revolution
Enlightenment and Serfdom in Russia
The Proletarians Are the Real Serfs: Utopian Socialism, Christian Socialism, and Radical Thought
Chapter 2. Poor Laws, Management, and Labor Control in Russia and Britain, or the History of the Bentham Brothers in Russia
A Global History of Labor Control: The Case of the Bentham Brothers in Russia
Estate Organization in Russia: Instruktsiia, or How to Supervise the Supervisor
Controlling Labor: Paupers and Servants in Britain
The Fate of Bentham’s Panopticon: Labor Organization in Nineteenth-century Britain and Russia

Part II. The Architecture of Bondage: Slaves and Serfs in Central Asia and Russia

Chapter 3. Slavery and Bondage in Central Asia and Russia from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century
Kholopy: Slaves, Serfs, or Indentured Servants?
War Captives at a Crossroads of Empires
Slavery in Central Eurasia: Its Estimation and Overall Interpretation
Chapter 4. The Institutions of Serfdom
Property Rules and the Legal Status of Russian Peasantry
Changing Legal Status: Administrative Procedure or Court Proceedings
Peasants in Town
Conclusion: Legal Status and Economic Dynamism in Imperial Russia
Chapter 5. Labor and Dependence on Russian Estates
Proto-Industry, Trade, and Growth in the Eighteenth Century
From Peasant-masters to Peasant-workers? (1800–1861)
Toward a Reassessment of Second Serfdom in Eastern Europe

Part III. Old Bondage, New Practices: A Comparative View of the Russian, European, and Indian Ocean Worlds

Chapter 6. The Persistent Servant: Labor, Rules, and Social Hierarchies in France and Britain from the Seventeenth to the Nineteenth Century
Labor Constraints in England
A French Exception?
Chapter 7. Bondage across the Ocean. Indentured Labor in the Indian Ocean
The Main Argument
Forms of Bondage in the Indian Ocean
Forced Migration Across the Oceans: Convicts
The Invention of Engagisme
Engagés from Asia and Africa in the Indian Ocean in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Engagisme after Slavery
From Servants to Indentured Immigrants: The Case of Mauritius
Toward a New World?
Conclusion. The Collapse and Resurgence of Bondage
Collective Bargaining and the “New” Labor Contract in Western Countries
Population, Migration, and Labor, 1870–1914
Russian Growth: From Serfdom to Bondage?

Printed Documents
Selected Bibliography

Starvation and the State

2014-02-06_StevenSerels_poster_webNew Book in the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies : Starvation and the State: Famine, Slavery, and Power in Sudan, 1883-1956, by Steven Serels

For much of its recent history, Sudan has been beset by devastating famines that have killed countless people and powerfully reshaped its society. However, as this historical study of food insecurity in the region shows, there was no necessary correlation between natural disasters, decreased crop yields, and famine in Sudan. Rather, repeated food crises since the late nineteenth century were the result of inter-generational, exploitative processes that transferred the resources of victim communities to the state and to a small group of non-state elites. This dynamic fundamentally transformed the social, political, and economic structures underpinning Sudanese society and prevented many communities from securing necessary subsistence. On one hand, food crises facilitated the British-led conquest of Sudan and subsequently allowed British imperial agents, acting through the Anglo-Egyptian government, to seize control of many of Sudan’s natural resources. At the same time, however, a number of indigenous elites were also able to position themselves so as to further augment their prestige and economic wealth. At independence, these elites were handed control of the state and, in the years that followed, they continued many of the policies that had impoverished their countrymen.

Steven Serels is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University, USA. He is also a Research Associate at the Indian Ocean World Centre, McGill University, Canada.

Announcing “The Indian Ocean in World History”

9780195337877Edward A. Alpers, The Indian Ocean in World History, Oxford University Press, 2013, 184 p.

A new volume in the New Oxford World History

The New Oxford World History is an innovative series that offers readers an informed, lively, and up-to-date history of the world and its people, representing a significant change from the “old” world history. “New” world history emphasizes connectedness and interactions of all kinds – cultural, economic, political, religious, and social – involving peoples, places, and processes. Each volume in this series is written by a leading authority and explores not only political events, but also social, cultural, and economic trends, and it highlights global interactions and the intersection of the global and the local.

Announcing “Britain’s Oceanic Empire, Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds, c.1550–1850”

9781107020146H. V. Bowen, Elizabeth Mancke, John G. Reid (eds.), Britain’s Oceanic Empire, Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds, c.1550–1850, Cambridge University Press, 2012, 486 p.

“DescriptionContentsResourcesAbout the Authors
This pioneering comparative study of British imperialism in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds draws on the perspectives of British newcomers overseas and their native hosts, of metropolitan officials and corporate enterprises, migrants and settlers. Leading scholars examine the divergences and commonalities in the legal and economic regimes that allowed Britain to project imperium across the globe. They explore the nature of sovereignty and law, governance and regulation, diplomacy, military relations and commerce, shedding new light on the processes of expansion that influenced the making of empire. While acknowledging the distinctions and divergences in imperial endeavours in Asia and the Americas – not least in terms of the size of indigenous populations, technical and cultural differences, and approaches to indigenous polities – this book argues that these differences must be seen in the context of what Britons overseas shared, including constitutional principles, claims of sovereignty, disciplinary regimes and military attitudes.”

Presentation on the publisher’s webpage

Announcing “The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia Industrial Production, 1770–2010”

Ulbe Bosma just realesed his new book entitled The Sugar Plantation in India and Indonesia, Industrial Production, 1770–2010

Cambridge UP, 2013

Description :

“European markets almost exclusively relied on Caribbean sugar produced by slave labor until abolitionist campaigns began around 1800. Thereafter, importing Asian sugar and transferring plantation production to Asia became a serious option for the Western world. In this book, Ulbe Bosma details how the British and Dutch introduced the sugar plantation model in Asia and refashioned it over time. Although initial attempts by British planters in India failed, the Dutch colonial administration was far more successful in Java, where it introduced in 1830 a system of forced cultivation that tied local peasant production to industrial manufacturing. A century later, India adopted the Java model in combination with farmers’ cooperatives rather than employing coercive measures. Cooperatives did not prevent industrial sugar production from exploiting small farmers and cane cutters, however, and Bosma finds that much of modern sugar production in Asia resembles the abuses of labor by the old plantation systems of the Caribbean.

Uses fresh archival material to produce new insights into the histories of industrialization of sugar production of the largest sugar producers in Asia in the early twentieth century
Gives a long-term analysis of how peasant economics in Asia were mobilized to produce for the global market
Combines a broad global perspective with comparative analysis of rural change”

Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds [New !]

stanzWe are proud to announce the publication of Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds, edited by Alessandro Stanziani and Gwyn Campbell (Publisher’s page)

Campbell, Gwyn & Stanziani, Alessandro (eds). Debt and Slavery in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Worlds. London: Pickering & Chatto Pub., 2013, 208 p.

“Slavery casts a long shadow over human history. Though, historically, the chief mechanism of slavery was seen as violent abduction, this view is being adjusted to recognize the importance of financial indebtedness in creating and sustaining human bondage. Filling a significant gap in the historiography, the essays in this volume show that debt slavery has played a crucial role in the economic history of numerous societies which continues even today.

Full introduction available on Scribd

Table of contents :

Introduction – Alessandro Stanziani and Gwyn Campbell

1 Debt Bondage and Chattel Slavery in Early Rome – Marc Kleijwegt

2 Slavery, Debt and Bondage: The Mediterranean and the Eurasia Connection, from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century – Alessandro Stanziani

3 Clientship, Social Indebtedness and State-Controlled Emancipation of Africans in the Late Ottoman Empire – Michael Ferguson

4 Pawnship and Seizure for Debt during the Era of the Slave Trade – Paul E. Lovejoy

5 The Business of ‘Trust’ and the Enslavement of Yoruba Women and Children for Debt – Olatunji Ojo

6 The Africanization of the Workforce in English America – Russell R. Menard

7 Credit, Captives, Collateral and Currencies: Debt, Slavery, and the Financing of the Atlantic World – Joseph C. Miller

8 Unpayable Debts: Reinventing Bonded Labour through Legal Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Brazil – Henrique Espada Lima

9 Indigenous Debt and the Spirit of Colonial Capitalism: Debt, Taxes and the Cash-Crop Economy in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1898–1956 – Steven Serels

India’s Unfree Workforce: Of Bondage Old and New

Jan Breman, Isabelle Guérin and Aseem Prakash (Editors), India’s Unfree Workforce: Of Bondage Old and New, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, 392 p.

518AgOsVlFL._SY300_This volume makes a distinction between agrarian bondage as it existed in the past and the contemporary practices of bondage in various branches of the economy. It suggests that the analysis for bonded labour cannot be disassociated from a broader analysis related to the whole landscape of labour. The emergence of neo-bondage is strongly connected to the reinforcement of the informalization of labour relationships as well as the intensification of circulation and labour migration. Neo-bondage is strongly connected to the increased monetization of commodity exchanges and of social relationships, as well as the development of mass consumption. The authors do not accept the proposition that labour bondage is likely to disappear when economic growth is sustained at its current rate.

Readings on the Chinese “Divergence” and labour in China

Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

  • “The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pomeranz demonstrates that the Chinese and Japanese cores were no worse off ecologically than Western Europe. Core areas throughout the eighteenth-century Old World faced comparable local shortages of land-intensive products, shortages that were only partly resolved by trade. Pomeranz argues that Europe’s nineteenth-century divergence from the Old World owes much to the fortunate location of coal, which substituted for timber. This made Europe’s failure to use its land intensively much less of a problem, while allowing growth in energy-intensive industries. Another crucial difference that he notes has to do with trade. Fortuitous global conjunctures made the Americas a greater source of needed primary products for Europe than any Asian periphery. This allowed Northwest Europe to grow dramatically in population, specialize further in manufactures, and remove labor from the land, using increased imports rather than maximizing yields. Together, coal and the New World allowed Europe to grow along resource-intensive, labor-saving paths. Meanwhile, Asia hit a cul-de-sac. Although the East Asian hinterlands boomed after 1750, both in population and in manufacturing, this growth prevented these peripheral regions from exporting vital resources to the cloth-producing Yangzi Delta. As a result, growth in the core of East Asia’s economy essentially stopped, and what growth did exist was forced along labor-intensive, resource-saving paths–paths Europe could have been forced down, too, had it not been for favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas.”

Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000

Jean-Laurent Rosenthal & Bin R. Wong : Before and Beyond Divergence. The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe

  • “China has reemerged as a powerhouse in the global economy, reviving a classic question in economic history: why did sustained economic growth arise in Europe rather than in China? Many favor cultural and environmental explanations of the nineteenth-century economic divergence between Europe and the rest of the world. This book, the product of over twenty years of research, takes a sharply different tack. It argues that political differences which crystallized well before 1800 were responsible both for China’s early and more recent prosperity and for Europe’s difficulties after the fall of the Roman Empire and during early industrialization. Rosenthal and Wong show that relative prices matter to how economies evolve; institutions can have a large effect on relative prices; and the spatial scale of polities can affect the choices of institutions in the long run. Their historical perspective on institutional change has surprising implications for understanding modern transformations in China and Europe and for future expectations. It also yields insights in comparative economic history, essential to any larger social science account of modern world history.”

Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2011, 290 p.

Philip T. Hoffman : “Why was it Europeans that conquered the World?”

  • “By the 1700s Europeans dominated the gunpowder technology, which was surprising, because it had originated in China and been used with expertise throughout Eurasia. To account for their dominance, historians have invoked competition, but it cannot explain why they pushed this technology further than anyone else. The answer lies with a simple tournament model of military competition that allows for learning by doing. Political incentives and military conditions then explain why the rest of Eurasia fell behind Europeans in developing the gunpowder technology. The consequences were huge, from colonialism to the slave trade and even the Industrial Revolution.”

The Journal of Economic History / Volume 72 / Issue 03 / September 2012, pp 601-633

Draft (?) can be downloaded from here.

Complementary readings:

  • Allen, Robert, “The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War”, Explorations in Economic History, 2001, 38: 411–447
  • Allen, Robert, “Agricultural productivity and rural incomes in England and the Yangtze Delta, c.1620–c.1820”, The Economic History Review, 2009, 62 (3): p. 525–550
  • Brenner, Robert & Isett, Christopher, “England’s Divergence from China’s Yangzi Delta: Property Relations, Microeconomics, and Patterns of Development”, The Journal of Asian Studies, 2002, 61 (2): p. 609–662
  • Broadberry, Stephen & Gupta, Bishnupriya, “Cotton textiles and the great divergence: Lancashire, India and shifting competitive advantage, 1600–1850”, International Macroeconomics and Economic History Initiative, 2005
  • Deng, Kent, “A Critical Survey of Recent Research in Economic History”, Economic History Review, 2000, 53. 1, p. 1-28 [downloadable]
  • Elvin, Mark, The Pattern of the Chinese Past, Stanford University Press, 1973
  • Feuerwerker, Albert, “Chinese Economic History in Comparative Perspective”, in Paul Ropp, Heritage of China, University of California Press, 1990, p. 224–241
  • He Zhaohui, “Ming China in the Global Context: New Trends in Ming Studies in Mainland China”, Ming Studies, Number 54, Fall , pp. 8-15(8) [Link]
  • Landes, David, “Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2006, 20 (2), p. 3–22
  • Ma Debin and Jan Luiten van Zanden, Law and Long-Term Economic Change. A Eurasian Perspective, Stanford University Press, 2011, 376 p.
  • Paul S. Ropp, China in World History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, 208 p.

Further readings on China Labour history:

Bibliographies on Ming-Qing China (1368-1911) history online:

  • “Ming Qing shehui jingji shi” 明清社會經濟史專題. Professor Victor (Pengsheng) Chiu 邱澎生 from the Chinese University of Hong-Kong has published a detailed bibliography of major studies on late imperial China society and economy. It constitutes an essentiel access point to studies published in Chinese language. Access here.
  • Marilyn Shea, University of Maine at Farmington, proposes a complete bibliography for Chinese studies that notably includes a section on Economics in Chinese History.
  • The Internet Guide for Chinese Studies (Sinological Institute, Leiden University, Netherlands) has been for long now one of the best access point to resources to Chinese History. It can be accessed here. Subcategories include links to resources on China’s Economy, Society and bibliographies.
  • Also have a look at Professor Leif Littrup’s (University of Copenhagen) Reference Works for Chinese Studies.
  • Chinese readers will also want to follow the reference journal presenting Trends in Chinese History Studies (Zhongguo shi yanjiu dongtai 中國史研究動態) published by the Center for Historical Research of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.