Journal of Global History (2010) 5, pp. 215–239 ª London School of Economics and Political Science 2010 doi:10.


Across Zomia with merchants, monks, and musk: process geographies, trade networks, and the Inner-East–Southeast Asian borderlands*
C. Patterson Giersch
History Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02481, USA E-mail:

For several decades, theorists have challenged notions of geographical space as fixed, instead arguing that spatial scales and regional configurations respond to transformations in politics and economies. This has raised questions about permanent regional studies configurations (such as Southeast Asia), sparking the proposal of ‘Zomia’, an alternative region focusing on Asia’s highland borderlands. Building on these developments, this article employs ‘process geography’ methodologies to reconstruct trading networks through the mountains and river valleys of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Inner Asia’s Kham, East Asia’s Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces, and Southeast Asia. In doing so, it reveals who traded commodities, on what scales they operated, and how their increasingly complex networks were imbricated with state and local power. These networks linked Zomian communities to Chinese and global transformations and influenced local cultural and political changes, suggesting that studies of mobility can uncover hidden geographies of social, political, and cultural change.

‘Zomia’ and process geographies
For several decades, geographers and other social theorists have challenged traditional notions of space, arguing that human geography is dynamically transformed through historical processes. In the first place, there is ongoing interest in the ‘production of space’, a concept proposed by the sociologist Henri Lefebvre and developed by geographers such as Neil Smith.1 Anchored by materialist approaches to human society, these studies demonstrate
à This article was written at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, Wellesley College, and supported by funding from the Wellesley College Dean’s Office. I am grateful to my NCH and History Department colleagues for critical feedback. I thank Jean Michaud for inviting me to join this well-orchestrated enterprise. I also thank the editors and two anonymous readers for graciously providing insightful and constructive suggestions. Henri Lefebvre, The production of space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991; Neil Smith, Uneven development: nature, capital, and the production of space, New York: Blackwell, 1984.



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how political and economic activities produce the geographical spaces and their representations in which we operate. A second French tradition – the Annaliste (particularly Braudelian) approach – continues to inspire inquiry into the cultural and economic ties that shape world regions.2 For historians, these are noteworthy because both approaches seek to historicize geographical studies while offering critical spatial analysis, and it is no wonder that both underpin efforts to understand Asia’s past. Lefebvre has informed Manu Goswami’s superb work on South Asia, while the Braudelian approach has left a major impact on Southeast and South Asian studies. More recently, it has inspired Wim Van Spengen’s fascinating reconstructions of the Inner Asian/South Asian borderlands.3 And both traditions underpin the ambitious proposals for ‘Zomia’ studies. First defined by Willem van Schendel, Zomia is an alternative world region, bringing together spaces and peoples marginalized in mainstream academia. As with Jean Michaud’s ‘Southeast Asian Massif’, Zomia encompasses the transnational highland peoples of eastern India, mainland Southeast Asia, south-west China, and the high plateaus and ranges of the Himalaya.4 Because these areas cross traditional Asian studies regions (Central, East, South, and Southeast Asia), the concept is designed to challenge institutionalized regional studies configurations. Such a proposal is exciting, although the creation of a new region, if implemented without nuance, may lead to simplifications mirroring past Orientalist writing about South or East Asian civilizations. Van Schendel offers several options to avoid this trap, including employing methodologies built upon Lefebvre’s original insights: if, as some contend, geographical spaces are neither fixed nor historically stable but are provisional outcomes of social action and conflict, then we must combine history and geography to recapture the dynamism of spatial production.5 In this spirit, this article reconstructs trade flows across several sectors of Zomia. Instead of beginning with Zomia and seeking ways of delineating its common attributes, however, the article employs what Arjun Appadurai calls process geography. Writing in opposition to the use of ‘trait geographies’, which emphasize language, culture, or other attributes affixed to a people or a space, Appadurai endorses an architecture for area studies that is based on process geographies and sees significant areas of human organization as precipitates of various kinds of action, interaction, and motion – trade, travel, pilgrimage, warfare, proselytisation, colonisation, exile, and the like. These geographies are necessarily large scale and shifting . . . Put more simply, the large regions that dominate our current maps for area studies are not permanent geographical facts. They are problematic heuristic devices for the study of global
2 3 The inspiration is Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds, 2 vols., New York: Harper & Row, 1973. ˆ For the Braudelian influence, see Markus P. M. Vink, ‘Indian Ocean studies and the ‘‘new thassology’’’, Journal of Global History, 2, 1, 2007, p. 43; Heather Sutherland, ‘Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean analogy’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 34, 1, 2003, pp. 1–20; Wim van Spengen, Tibetan border worlds: a geohistorical analysis of trade and traders, London: Kegan Paul International, 2000. Willem van Schendel, ‘Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: jumping scale in Southeast Asia’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20, 6, 2002, p. 10; Jean Michaud, Historical dictionary of the peoples of the Southeast Asian Massif, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006, p. 5. Neil Brenner, ‘Between fixity and motion: accumulation, territorial organization, and the historical geography of spatial scales’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 16, 1998, p. 462.



’ in Morris Rossabi. and economy – are not fixed. to north-west China’s Qinghai and Gansu. ed. including the post-war inspired division of eastern Eurasia into the regions and disciplines of Asian studies. on the one hand. Kham. including. pp. Local Tibetans. and Southeast Asia. Goldstein. this is an initial effort to evaluate trade flows among areas traditionally labelled East. ‘Geographies’. Dawei Sherap. CA: University of California Press. Xinjiang. Melvyn C. WA: University of Washington Press. thus.10 While my larger project will explore the intricate connections between mobility (broadly construed). for example. 660–1. 12. and Tibet – areas sometimes included in Central Asia. its administration has. these connections will be mentioned as well. Inner Asia includes Mongolia. Inner. Matthew T. ¨ 10 . I focus on nineteenth. it does not fully survey communities in the Zomian regions mentioned. share many connections with central Tibet. Regions are best viewed as initial contexts for themes that generate variable geographies. then the inherited scholarly traditions and institutions are ‘ill suited to deal with human activities spilling over’ the boundaries of civilization. to overlook these areas’ links to the greater Himalayan region and India.9 In fact. ‘Grassroots globalization and the research imagination’. for at least three centuries. including civilizations (East or South Asia). The institutionalization of these regions has produced scholarship capable of investigating certain preconceived geographical scales. ‘A thorn in the dragon’s side: Tibetan Buddhist culture in China. 2004. Kapstein. 6–7. p. or their records may reside in different places. and to distant Shanghai and Hong Kong. Siebenschuh.8 Since this article is an exploration into process geographies. But if geographical scales – the spatial configurations of power. Van Schendel.and twentieth-century trade ties that linked the Zomian communities in Kham (south-east Tibet) with China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and mainland Southeast Asia (Figure 1). and William R. and are instead produced through historical processes. or regions (mainland Southeast Asia). rather than as fixed geographies marked by pregiven themes. the idea of autonomy seems to contribute to Khampas’ narratives of self-identification. van Schendel envisions Zomia as just such a heuristic device designed to challenge the intellectual underpinnings and institutions for Asian area studies and to open the door for process geographies. 9. 230–3. Qinghai. p. 2000. culture. pp. however. Governing China’s multiethnic frontiers. South. local political entities enjoying ‘a high degree of autonomy’. but also developed unique political and cultural practices. then. and long-term social and cultural change in trading towns 6 7 8 9 Arjun Appadurai. state. A Tibetan revolutionary: the political life and times of Bapa Phuntso Wangye. nations or empires (China. 2004. 1. has a complex social and political history.. Seattle. as Matthew Kapstein writes. In practice. Berkeley. Public Culture. To make this topic manageable. and region. although this is a major undertaking because people on the move might not record their motion. Considered one of Tibet’s historical provinces. India).7 One way to deal with spillover is to analyse things and people in motion. causing many to question inherited geographical scales.6 In his original critique. often called Khampas. He notes how global processes cut across traditional spatial categories.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 217 geographic and cultural processes. often been divided among Tibet and the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. It is impossible.

his analysis concentrates on the important issues of local autonomy and agency. p. 96. collectives based on home province or ethnicity. The art of not being governed. imperial China and. lands. The focus on networks. Thus. GA.. 2001. local polities or administrative sectors (Kham’s Chala region. For instance. the movement of goods relied on networks of political and economic power linking human beings across space and allowing them to influence commercial changes throughout broad expanses. we are told.11 The concept of acting at a distance comes from network theorists who. religious. see ibid. its successor regimes). reveals alternative approaches that both complement and challenge James C. In other words. . until the late twentieth century that states gained the technologies (of transportation. on the other. and (more controversially) even their largely oral cultures. pp. Kris Olds. communication.’13 It was not. probe global capitalism’s development by evaluating how individuals and groups create and maintain relationships of power across different geographical scales. ‘Chains and networks. Tibetan and Chinese. These people represented states (Tibet. see also James C. Sichuan Province). unpublished paper for Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting. inland and maritime. The emphasis on networks has several advantages. this article focuses on the foundations of the trade itself – the trading networks – and provides only an initial analysis of impacts on local societies in Kham and elsewhere. like those studying the production of space. regional. social organization. 12 13 . officials. Those involved included merchants. Sichuan. Instead. 3–6 April 2008. Scott. It avoids any tendency to create Zomia as a new world region. lamas. territories and scales: towards a relational framework for analysing the global economy’. . whether international or local. 104. They could then ‘monetize the people. France. x. it was.) to control mobile. 14–16. or commercial. Yunnan. and hereditary leaders hailing from Kham. although we must acknowledge their power. Shaanxi. and South Asia. etc. In particular. complete with its own simplified trait geographies and unconnected to developments in the world around it. highland peoples. we need not privilege the imperial Qing state (1636–1912) or its ‘republican’ Chinese successors (1912–49). can be read as strategic positionings designed to keep the state at arm’s length. pp. or global. we can evaluate traders within the context of their fluid. An investigation of nineteenth. 2009.j 218 j C . 94–7. CT: Yale University Press. For him. Scott’s conclusions in his new book on Zomia. these networks allowed the powerful to ‘act at a distance’. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H and their adjacent Zomian highlands. in fact. pp. Nor must we focus exclusively on businesses. Zomia represents a region in which states had little power before 1945.12 An advantage of network theory is its catholic coverage of institutions. New Haven. James C. a place where cultures and lifestyles were designed to resist states: ‘Virtually everything about [Zomian] people’s livelihoods. and Henry Wai-chung Yeung. Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs. Philip F. 1. Kelly. intertwined networks. 33–4. It also begins to unveil the mechanisms that humans built for interaction – between highland and lowland. ‘Zomia as a ‘‘state-repelling space’’’. and resources of the periphery so that they become . While Scott emphasizes both the role of trade in Zomian communities and interactions with powerful states. and commercial firms. Scott. moreover. whether local. Tibet. The art of not being governed: an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. 2. auditable contributors 11 Peter Dicken. after 1912. 8.and early twentieth-century trade requires more than an investigation into individual peddlers. ideologies. whether political. Atlanta.

This was often accomplished in collusion with political representatives and local elites.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 219 to the gross national product’. and local peoples had to take notice. innovated to create new networks linking Inner Asia’s Kham highlands to East Asian metropolises and to South and Southeast Asian ports. this article demonstrates how merchants. Nevertheless. Art. Chinese. In order to construct and maintain commercial ties. networks of state and commercial power did snake through the highland regions. whether local. therefore. pp. although this may be a misnomer because the space comprised highlands and valley even as its constitution changed in response to regional and global contingencies.15 This argument suggests that the one great turning point for Zomia’s people arrived in the mid twentieth century. This was true in the mining areas of eighteenth-century China and Vietnam. . and religious hierarchies. and France. as Scott notes. There is much to learn from these conclusions. then. Processes of acculturation and adaptation were complex and multidirectional. the highland people of Zomia were ‘relatively free’ and. including those from peripheral (‘Zomian’?) communities in north-west Yunnan with a background in the Kham trade. subject to the indirect rule of empires such as Qing China. Kon-baung Burma. Ibid. as well as in the grasslands. India. One category of adaptation included acculturation and the development of institutions to facilitate cross-cultural contacts. Britain. 22. Until the 1950s. whether state or 14 15 Scott. however tentatively. sell. pp. but there is also room for alternative interpretations. and border customs stations that were linked through the twentieth-century trade networks discussed here. Another type included the development and implementation of new business practices that allowed men from communities of Zomia to flourish in the colonial ports of Burma. meaning that. It is possible to trace the emergence of networks that linked together peoples and places.14 In many ways. 4–5. commerce helped bolster powerful social. The study of trade flows also allows us to cross the artificial conceptual boundaries of the Asian studies regions. and Hong Kong – where they and their firms could develop an interface with the globe. merchants from many backgrounds developed institutions to buy. traders innovated and adapted. In particular. even before 1945. most areas of Zomia were not governed by modern nation-states but were. but they reveal that Zomia was not just a place shaped by cultural refusal or the avoidance of external institutions of power. political. creating a trans-frontier economic space that might be called Zomia. meaning that the rise of the nation-state (while still vastly important) cannot be viewed as the signal historical moment. Scott implies that this was an instrumentalist (and therefore rational?) choice that did not contradict the overall goal of resistance nor the control that Zomian communities had over their destinies. In placing networks at the centre of this story. 11. or Tibetan. even in eras before the arrival of nation-states. we can begin to analyse how vectors of power entered Zomia.. 19. and that the beginning of the end for institutions of freedom and cultures of resistance was the building of nation-states in Southeast Asia and communist China. even when they accepted tributary status or changed their cultural practices to imitate lowland (state-making) groups. Indochina. and transport resources across the rough lands and long distances of Zomia. trade markets. From early times.

for example. extensive exchanges between south-west China. Smith. Xinan minzu xueyuan xuebao. ‘Shaan shang zai kaituo ‘‘xixi’’ Han-Zang maoyi zhong de lishi zuoyong (History of the impact of Shaanxi merchants on the opening of ‘‘north-west–south-west’’ Han–Tibetan trade)’. the people of Zomia traded at various geographical scales. networks of power and wealth. Most exchanges took place over short distances: highlanders traded forest or animal products with valleydwellers to gain grain. wool. pp. Song China. Southeast Asia. the volume of goods was relatively small when compared to later times. bureaucrats. which provided textiles and tea. animal. Shaanxi and Muslim Chinese (Hui) merchants became deeply involved in the Tibet trade.j 220 j C .17 This represented a pattern in which inland areas. 16 17 See. were intimately involved in early trade. and even lifestyles around movement through spaces that included Mandalay. Yunnan’s Dali kingdom (937–1253) exported horses first to Vietnam and later to its eastern neighbour. Taxing heaven’s storehouse: horses. philosophy and social sciences edition). proved to be fundamentally at odds with other powerful historico-spatial trends. however. The Yunnan merchants who built businesses across China. Kunming: Yunnan minzu. and south China also date to ancient times.16 However. Chen Chongkai. and metal products. cloth. and they were destroyed after 1949. 136–42. Lhasa. Shaanxi merchants built on these connections to trade in tea. Tu Yaojun and Lu Minsheng. and medicines. 2004. however. A brief history of trans-Zomia trade For centuries. 4. Tibetan regions. The incentives for such change included the desire to access. ‘Qingdai Zhong Yue maoyi tongdao tanxi (An investigation into China–Vietnam trade routes during the Qing dynasty)’. pp. 1991.19 As important as these commercial ties were. and such reckoning meant acquiring new practices. specializing in forest. Cambridge. Finally. 1997. engaged with south China’s and Southeast Asia’s maritime economies. As the Mongol Yuan court forged ties between Lhasa and Beijing. Paul J. including new visions of national space emphasizing China’s boundedness. 1074–1224. including Kham. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H commercial. traders were already moving gold and musk along routes linking Lhasa with both East and South Asia. p. and even India and Europe. 44. for instance. tools. pp. the emphasis on trade flows and networks demonstrates how process geography can be a tool for recovering spatial relationships and geographical representations that became hidden in the post-war era. Perhaps the best documented has been Inner Asian exchanges of horses and animal products for East Asian textiles and teas. 72–3. 18 19 . and cloth. Lu Ren. Local peoples had to reckon with states and commercial networks. Hong Kong. Southeast Asia.18 From the thirteenth century. 4. zhexue shuhui kexue ban (Journal of the Southwest Nationalities Institute. MA: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies. when the creation and enforcement of national boundaries temporarily triumphed. rather than avoid. Guangxi Difangzhi (Guangxi gazetteer). 19. Long-distance exchanges were also driven by ecological differences. musk. In the seventh century CE. Those movements. and Tibet arranged their activities. Yunnan dui wai jiaotong shi (A history of Yunnan’s foreign communications). and the destruction of the Sichuan tea industry. 240. networks. Tibetan border worlds. whether language acquisition or other changes. Van Spengen. 38–40. 1998.

At this point. 142–1 QL 34 01 19. pp. ˆ Ithaca. Darrtse-mdo. vol. Chen. 112–7. 1995.26 In the troops’ wake marched merchants. which was fuelled by economic activity throughout the South China Sea. commodities and networks’ conference.23 Mining in Yunnan and northern Vietnam helped fuel commercial growth throughout eastern Eurasia but it also provoked profoundly localized and lasting demographic. in K. political. moreover. and the military labor force in the Jinchuan campaigns’. which the Qing state managed through a permit system (Figure 2). Yunnan. The Qing and Trinh promoted mining. In response to the Dalai Lama’s request. Essays into Vietnamese pasts. 421–2. Denser merchant and state networks were built into highland areas in order to facilitate sustained and high-volume transportation of bulk goods. c. and economic changes in the mining areas. Kvaerne. however. ‘Cotton. pp. unpublished paper for ‘Chinese traders in the Nanyang: capital. ‘Central Vietnam’s trading world in the eighteenth century as seen in Le Quy ˆ ´ Ðon’s ‘‘Frontier chronicles’’’. 22.21 When Japan limited copper exports in 1715. 44–6. quantitative and qualitative changes to longdistance trade had emerged. the Kangxi emperor designated Dajianlu (also known as Tachienlu. 1733–2. 247–63. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tibetan studies. C. pp. Whitmore. ‘A brief introduction to the first Jinchuan war’. Oslo: The Institute for Comparative Studies in Human Culture. QL 11 05 09.25 In the eighteenth century. Roger Greatrex. 37–40. Yingcong Dai. Victor B. 435. 2003. ed. Zhangbao. many of whom operated out 20 21 22 Palace memorials (Zhupi zouzhe). south-east Yunnan mines increased output. Patterson Giersch. QL 31 03 29. ‘The Qing state. copper. Late Imperial China. purchased at markets in Burma’s and Siam’s territories. 240–4. where veins of copper ran from north-east Yunnan’s hills to those of northern Vietnam. for instance. Sichuan’s private markets had begun to outsell the official tea–horse markets further north. ca 1600–1900’. 2.and merchant-led penetration. By the beginning of the eighteenth century. and Vietnamese merchants came to purchase copper at the Vietnam–China border. pp. bronze coins became increasingly dear as cash shortages plagued the South China Sea trading world.. the Qing state extended its control over Kham’s rGyal-rong kingdoms through a series of military campaigns in the 1740s and 1770s (the Jinchuan wars). 1994. ‘Shaan shang’.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 221 By the beginning of the eighteenth century. Lu. 800–1830. Responding to increasing demand among growing migrant communities in Yunnan. pp.24 The highlands of Inner Asia experienced similar trends toward state. Beijing Number One Archives. Lieberman. which attracted tens of thousands of Chinese miners to the Zomian highlands. Taylor and John K. Yang Yingju. the trade between Chinese and Tibetan merchants in Kham rapidly increased. W. 2001.22 Demand for copper cash drove both northern Vietnam’s Trinh rulers and the Qing into the Sino-Southeast Asian borderlands. NY: Southeast Asia Program.. Alexander Woodside. 23 24 25 26 . This did not signal state withdrawal from commerce. Kangding) an official trade market in 1696. 1. eds. Cornell University. pp. in P. and caravans: trade and the transformation of southwest China. and merchants from all over China came to deal in tea. Based on the number of permits issued. merchants. Taipei. Strange parallels: Southeast Asia in global context.20 As commerce grew in early modern Eurasia so did the demand for copper cash. Fuheng. The early Qing government continued to promote tea–horse exchanges and allowed private merchants to participate. 168–9. 18–19 January 2007. 213–16. Han and Hui merchants imported tremendous amounts of raw cotton.

27 These eighteenth-century trends were reflected in nineteenth-century practices. pp. and Yunnanese merchants all moved in to establish long-lasting commercial institutions. and Japanese organized the purchasing and shipping of wool from the Inner Asian grasslands through Gansu or Sichuan to Tianjin. Millward. p. on a journey from Chengtu to the eastern frontier of Tibet. handled the sales in Hong Kong.000 feet. after the opening of the Hanoi–Kunming railway in 1910. Southeast Asia. 64. Litang was drawn into networks that brought its commodities to distance places: by the nineteenth century. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H of Dajianlu. DC: Smithsonian Institution. and Litang gold was brought to Dajianlu before being shipped into China. where wool was exported abroad. 2. shipped it by rail to Haiphong. London: Harrison and Sons. responded by increasing their geographical scales of operation. 125.30 27 28 (consulted 14 September. Hosie’s journey to Tibet. and Shaanxi. There. Thus. Americans. 2001). and its rivers produced gold dust. Diary of a journey through Mongolia and Tibet in 1891 and 1892. both French and Chinese firms purchased tin and. Tin ore was mined by local furnace companies (luhao) and then taken by mule or human porter to Gejiu. Mr. Sichuanese. ‘The Chinese border wool trade of 1880–1937’. and musk from the Sichuan–Tibetan highlands were increasingly shipped to Asia’s ports. Washington. and its people imported grains from lower-altitude areas. pp. The pastures around Litang provided fodder for sheep. pp. brought new opportunities to link with international markets. the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw another broad transition. were driven out of the highlands each August. The river of golden sand: the narrative of a journey through China and eastern Tibet to Burmah. 1905 (reprinted London: The Stationery Office. great flocks of Litang sheep. including Jardine Matheson and Mitsui. tin from the Yunnan uplands. web-published article. Hosie. As East and Inner Asia became more deeply enmeshed in global trade networks. trade flourished as first Mongols. the routes from Tibet to Gansu became key trade highways for wool. Major companies. Located at an altitude over 13. often for export abroad. and Chinese (both Hui and Han) and later Europeans.29 At the same time. Alexander Hosie. The women of Chongqing purchased toilet powders made with Litang deer antler. p. bringing their representatives. From this time forward. James A. 2009). 1904: a report by Mr.28 If the eighteenth century witnessed an increasing penetration of state and merchant networks. one example is the Kham town of Litang (Lithang). organizations. 1940. From the 1880s through to the 1930s. 357–8. Litang’s climate could not sustain agriculture. 104. Dajianlu was one of several trade markets that were central to the Tibet–China trade. Such localized exchanges were nothing new. but Litang also became involved in long-distance trade networks. William Gill. His Majesty’s Consul at Chengtu. vol. which had managed the trans-Zomia trade. ‘Qing state’. A. 5. p. as well as the expansion of European influence in South Asia and China. 368–71. destined for dinner tables in Chengdu. As sustained commerce emerged. wool from eastern Tibet’s Kham and Amdo (Qinghai). European conquests in Burma and Vietnam. p. 79–80. where it was loaded on steamers bound for Hong Kong and sold on the international market. William Woodville Rockhill. Beijing: Guoli Qinghua daxue Guoqing pucha yanjiu suo. 29 30 . Rockhill. 1994 (revised 1999). 1894. Tibetans.j 222 j C . and goods into the markets of east China. Diary. London: John Murray. Caravan firms. Yunnan Gejiu xiye diaocha (A survey of the tin industry in Yunnan’s Gejiu region).georgetown. Chinese and foreign firms invested in south-east Yunnan’s tin mines. and India. Hui. its wild lands sheltered deer. Jiang Rusu. 1880. http://www9. 41–4.

Blackburn: The North-east Lancashire Press Company. See. and Peng Yongchang. and established branches in Burma and India. Many ponies and mules were raised in Kham and Amdo before being shipped to markets in Dali or even 31 32 Van Spengen. for example. 285. 51. 1989. Lanzhou. tea. The most important went through Songpan and Dajianlu. 85–90. ‘Dali Baizu mabang yu shangbang de xingcheng yu fazhan (Emergence and development of the Dali Bai nationality’s caravan and commercial groups)’. 82–3. n. in Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xieshanghuiyi Yunnansheng weiyuanhui. but more important goods for these southern routes included opium. Initially. As capital and business increased.. pp. wool was a significant trade item. Their emergence demonstrates how firms with origins in the trans-Zomia caravan trade could be built into complex international companies. 1891. although Atunzi (Deqin. Yan’s relative Yang Hongchun. ‘Qingzhengyu shanghao huiyi lu (Recollections of the Qingzhengyu business firm)’. p. Chiranan Prasertkul. and bear paw to Southeast and South Asia. Yunnanese firms were transformed to operate on geographical scales that took their representatives throughout China and other Asian regions. Chulalongkorn University. tea. Bourne report. Kham began to trade with the world: its wool and musk were exported to British India. 2004. 28–45. pp. p. Shen Xu. pp. and beyond. Qin Shucai. 76. ed. importing textiles from Sichuan.. 1898. ed. wenshi ziliao weiyuanhui. and medicinal products.31 Southeast Asia. or yak. and Yongchangxiang was only one of a number of pre-war Yunnan businesses that operated across international (and areas studies) boundaries. Jie Lesan. The rest of the article places this transition into historical context. Kunming: Yunnan renmin. 9. which was started as a partnership in 1903 by Yan Zizhen (allegedly an ethnic Bai or minjia). William Woodville Rockhill. 1896–1897.32 Such a story was not unique.33 As on the northern routes that led from Tibet through Xining. donkey. 1989. the partnership operated on a relatively small geographical scale. Bangkok: Institute of Asian Studies. which has been explored by numerous authors. raw silk. Zhongguo Xinan wenhua yanjiu (Research in the culture of south-west China). the raising and selling of pack animals was central to the operation of these trade networks. Kunming: Yunnan minzu. Deqen) was another town that saw valuable trade goods transˆ ported to Yunnan’s Lijiang and Dali trade markets. His companies imported foreign textiles and exported musk. Mongolia and Tibet. New York: The Century Company. developed new partnerships. and Xi’an. Tibetan border worlds. and buying Tibetan mushrooms and musk to sell in Yunnan. in Na Qi. Since many commodities were shipped via pony. The land of the lamas: notes of a journey through China. Kunming: Yunnan jiaoyu.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 223 During the same period.34 pack animals. mule. 33 34 . Yunnan trade in the nineteenth century: southwest China’s cross-boundaries functional system. 2000. The best known of these firms was Xizhou’s Yongchangxiang. 70–1. silver. 1. musk. vol. exporting Yunnan tea to Kham. Report on the mission to China of the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce. Yunling jinjiang huahuo zhi: Yunnan minzu shangmao (Commodities of the Yun mountain range and Jinsha river: Yunnan nationalities’ trade). Yunnan wenshi ziliao xuanji (Selected sources for Yunnan literature and history). Shanghai and Hong Kong. Yan parted with Yang and Peng. pp. pp. a Jiangxi native who had met Yan in Sichuan. Trade routes and goods Inner Asia’s Tibetan lands were linked to south-west China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces through a number of routes. 266–9. While French firms sent representatives to Shanghai and even to Yunnan to purchase musk.

New York Times.42 The supply of musk to world markets linked numerous people to global processes. 50. Deite. ponies were also raised in Sichuan and Yunnan. in addition to Chinese.html (consulted 29 June 2009). P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H further south. Morrison. edn. which was exported from the Kham highlands to China and the world. p. fumigating materials. p. Rockhill estimated 10–13 million lb through Dajianlu alone. Mr. Qisen Yang. La mission du Thibet de 1855 a 1870. 1941 (reprinted Westport. 1872. 56–64. 1848. ‘Notes on trade and industry abroad’. 176–7. R. Philadelphia. with another million lb each via Lijiang and Songpan. ‘Musk: its origin and export’. 25–6. Hosie. and Zuojian Feng. 31 July 1921. and Tibet. 3rd rev. Xiuxiang Meng. Musk is taken from the glands (‘pods’) of the male musk deer. Hunters from among Tibetans in Yerkalo or the Nung (Lou-tse to French missionaries) in ´ Tsarong district sold their musk pods locally for silver (probably imported from India). Kham. P. Yunnan. National Geographic News. etc. 1895. retrieved 24 November 2009 from ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Qin. dried. Hosie estimated ` over 11 million lb through Dajianlu. and then steamed before being packaged into twenty-pound bricks. 298–300. Europeans. H. Brannt. see Arthur de Rosthorn. Rockhill. p.. although some came from southern Yunnan as well.36 Although technically a green tea (because steaming arrested the oxidation process). London: Cresset Press. Verdun: Ch. William T.39 And it was Kham musk (often called ‘Tonkin musk’) that came to be prized by Europeans. PA: Henry Carey Baird & Co. The tower of five glories: a study of the Min Chia of Ta Li.38 While there are multiple species of musk deer. pp. Yunling jinjiang hua huozhi. 1892. Hosie’s journey. were Americans. These ingredients were chopped. 2006. Land. For details on manufacturing. Canton: Chinese Repository. A practical treatise on the manufacture of perfumery: directions for making all kinds of perfumes.nationalgeographic. and much of it came from Sichuan’s Yazhou (Ya’an) region. reprinted Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Libraries. chrysogaster) that are found in Yunnan. Laurent.hku. pp. sachet powders. and (consulted 30 March 2010). http://news.. Desgodins estimated at least 6 million livres of tea imported each year. 2. Europeans gained access to Tonkin musk via Guangzhou. dentifrices. See C. http://lookup. vol. 7 September 2004.lib. C. ‘Poachers target musk deer for perfumes. Lin Xia. p. CT: Hyperion Press.. Chinese commercial guide.j 224 j C . Desgodins. medicines’. pp. M. C. June 1919. Biological Conservation. pp. by the nineteenth century. trans.37 A second important trade item was musk. J. John ‘Conservation status and causes of decline of musk deer (Moschus spp. in 1919. etc. Dajianlu was a major trade market for brick tea and. it is still valued in China and Korea as a treatment for the cardiovascular system – so much so that over-hunting threatens most musk deer species. 2003. cosmetics. London: Luzac & Co. and the main consumers. pp. 277. pp. 333–42. their sale being central to large fairs in places such as Lijiang. At 35 Gill.. it is the Black and Himalayan musk deer (Moschus fuscus. Fitzgerald. 178. Austin Clements estimated Dajianlu’s musk trade to be the largest in the world. 109. Austin J. 211–22.40 As a global trade in perfumes expanded in the 1840s. pp. Various estimates placed annual amounts at over 10 million lb. Long considered an ingredient for perfumes in Europe. 108. 1973). 349. 3. 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 . Clements.) in China’. Yazhou ‘brick tea’ (zhuancha) consisted of tea leaves along with the stems and branches of tea bushes and other plants. It was imported into all regions of Tibet. On the tea cultivation in western Ssuch’uan and the trade with Tibet via Tachienlu. 87. The New York Times (1851–2006). River.35 For centuries tea was the most crucial commodity linking Tibet to China. brick tea was recognized as a unique product for Kham and Tibet. North China Daily News. the volumes of tea traded there were large.41 Almost eighty years later.

77–8. Clements estimated that approximately 2. Mr. pp. Gill. 206–9. who eagerly buy them up. at least one foreign firm annually purchased US$150. see the articles by Dennis O. Diary.’ Journal of World History. by melting them down. pp. 283. ‘Musk’. and musk was a Kham product exported globally. 510–15. The traders could move to the larger markets and gain significant profits. ‘Musk’.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 225 Yerkalo in the mid nineteenth century. 211–22. selling an ounce of musk at Batang (Bathang) or Atunzi for 2.45 In the 1910s. Hosie’s journey.46 which Gill. musk entered the global markets either via Chengdu and Chongqing to Shanghai (where. 2. for instance.000. [Lhasa].43 In Dajianlu. Shanghai: Statistical Department of the IGC. a hunter could sell an ounce of musk to traders for 1. able to gain a slight percentage. 368–71. vol. the value of this trade was 478.15 per tael. 391–427. Returns of trade and trade reports for the year 1889. B. then silver was a crucial item that linked South Asia to these trade networks. and Dajianlu’s eight forges then melted down the rupees and cast them into Sichuan-style jiuba ingots. River. Rockhill.44 The volume of the musk trade can be estimated based on a few pieces of evidence. are. By the 1910s.500 lb of musk transported out of Sichuan. and much of it seems to have come from British India. H. pp. On arbitrage. 304–306. Clements. 13.48 43 44 45 Desgodins.000worth) or through Atunzi. where a French company stationed a Monsieur Perrone as its agent. at Dajianlu.2 ounces of silver. and on to the frontiers of China. was the equivalent of almost US$550. Mission. ´ including ‘Cycles of silver: global economic unity through the mid-eighteenth century. where the merchants. Some hunters came to be represented by agents who dealt in large quantities: Clements learned of a Tibetan agent with over 1. in the 1890s. the musk pods were trimmed and prepared for the Chinese and foreign markets. If tea was a Chinese product shipped into Tibet. Desgodins. ‘Pakhoi trade report for the year 1889’. Morse. In 1893. 304–6. pp. From Atunzi. This silver found its way to Dajianlu in exchange for tea imports. These rising prices produced changes in the musk trade as Han Chinese increasingly moved into Kham to hunt for musk deer. 2.800 pods to sell. one ounce of musk earned 3 ounces of silver. 2002. the drop in volume being explained by the region’s post-Qing instability. The French missionaries in Tibet spoke of large quantities of Indian rupee shipments. pp. the Imperial Maritime Customs Returns for Chongqing reported over 4. Flynn and Arturo Giraldez. Land. confirmed: ‘These rupees come in thousands all through Tibet. Rockhill. Land. Clements.192 haiguan taels. when Clements studied the Dajianlu market. Exchange rate based on the 1889 rate reported in China Imperial Maritime Customs. see also Hosie. part 2. pp. the musk was presumably shipped abroad via Vietnam or Burma. pp.125-worth of silver resulted from trade imbalances between Tibet and India. p. From Dajianlu. the cost of an ounce of musk had risen to 11–14 ounces of silver. pp. 282. ‘Preparation’ often included making the pod heavier (to increase the selling price) by injecting anything from barley grains to pulverized beef. 1890. Rockhill. 46 47 48 . writing in 1880.33 ounces of silver. Tibet exported large quantities of silver to China. which.’47 Rockhill also emphasized the Indian connection. arguing that annual surpluses of about £34. based on an estimated exchange rate of US$1. although Gill’s comments suggest that Tibetan and Chinese merchants were engaged in arbitrage.660 lb of musk were exported from Dajianlu each year. Mission du Thibet.

‘Economic notes on eastern Tibet’. Merchants. however. 39–41. 54. beimu (a small white bulb dug in Litang’s forests). 37. The Kham trade provides an excellent case for understanding the increasing scale of merchant firms. Giersch. pp. monks. 184. there were numerous transactions. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H While other goods were exported from Kham. 2004. many of which emerged from borderland communities that were not dominated by Han Chinese. and states and their officials. in Guangxi Province. and other goods developed in the eighteenth century. p. an interesting parallel is found further east. ‘Ming-Qing shi Dian Gui diqu yu Yuenan guanxi shulun (Yunnan and Guangxi regions’ relations with Vietnam during the Ming and Qing periods)’.51 The guild was not. organizing caravans.j 226 j C . 106–7. Jindai Yunnan shangren yu shangren ziben (Modern Yunnanese merchants and merchant capital). which was particularly valued in Guangdong. In 1904. ‘Cotton’. and Tengchong. Kunming: Yunnan daxue. However.52 In other words. brokers and their practices. Hosie estimated that Dajianlu annually exported over a ton of chongcao and over six tons of beimu. large-scale family firms (shanghao) emerged in south-west China. The earliest in Yunnan were founded by men from the major caravan towns such as Heqing.’49 The volumes of these products could be relatively high. Coales explained chongcao (‘insect grass’) as ‘a dried caterpillar about 2 inches long. including deer antler in velvet. and this trend continued into the twentieth century. where the early firms emerged from the Vietnam trade. which included merchants and their firms. Cambridge. 2005. Gu Yongji. Guilds provided aid in purchasing and selling. Hosie’s journey. particularly primary producers. Mr. MA: Harvard University Press. It is supposed to be an excellent restorative to weak constitutions. brokers. The most important early Han institutions were merchant guilds (huiguan). idem. While Han and Hui traders 49 50 51 52 Oliver Coales. the only crucial institution. Yunnan shifan daxue xuebao (Journal of Yunnan Normal University). p. monks and their monasteries. Hosie. and officials It is unsurprising that Han and Hui merchant networks were important to the operation of trade throughout Zomia. Han and Hui merchants expanded their caravan routes and developed increasingly sophisticated business institutions. perhaps the most interesting. long-distance trade spurred on the creation of complex commercial organizations in the nineteenth century. . 6. grain. ch. were ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine. pp. For men who moved bulk goods over vast distances by mule or horse. 4. it is possible to reconstruct the transport and trade networks. and chongcao. such institutions were valuable. Luo Qun. p. As bulk trade in copper. 2.50 For every ounce of chongcao that found its way out of Litang and across the great expanses to Guangdong’s markets. Asian borderlands: the transformation of Qing China’s Yunnan frontier. and these institutions were arguably one reason why Chinese dominated Sino-Southeast Asian trade routes in early modern times. which brought men from the same province or locale together in new places. 2006. 80. which has been killed by a fungus of about the same length growing out of one of its segments. esp. Dali. October 1919. 244. after musk and silver. cotton. involving many people and their trade networks. So who produced and traded the goods? It is impossible to reconstruct the activities of all involved. By the early nineteenth century at the latest. and assessing local markets. Geographical Journal.

eds.54 The most powerful Shaanxi firms dominated the tea trade. Kunming: Yunnan minzu. Rockhill. This is particularly true for the merchants of Xizhou. 56–7.53 Of the Han merchants who plied the Tibet and Kham trade. 277. by the later nineteenth century. frequently reported on Shaanxi traders. where they would sell to Tibetan traders. owning the tea-packing establishments (chafang) in Yazhou and establishing branches in crucial trade towns throughout Kham. 310–11. who managed the main office for the Hui-run Yuanxinchang firm. handled musk trade from Kham to Chengdu. K. Shaanxi families could be found living in Ganzi (Garze). recalled how his firm engaged in trade throughout Yunnan and Southeast Asia. Land.55 Muslim Chinese were also deeply involved in the Kham trade. though they spoke Bai at home. p. where they controlled the local flour trade. Yang Bokang’s Qichang firm. 23. 76–7. ‘Aspects of Bai culture: change and continuity in a Yunnan nationality’. but noted that it was north-west Yunnan’s Lijiang and Xizhou merchants who handled musk purchases in Dajianlu. Mr. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Zhongguo nanfang Huizu jingji shangmao ziliao xuanbian (Southern China Hui economics and trade: selected sources). pp. p. Under the ancestors’ shadow: Chinese culture and personality. Songpan. Zhongguo nanfang Huizu. they and other merchants began to extend their networks even further. Hosie’s journey. a tactic that may have helped them to do business with nomads. the Shaanxi (laoshaan) men may have been the most ubiquitous. The geographic scale of their nineteenth-century trade tended to be. Westerners who spoke Chinese and understood the nuances of China and Tibet. including in Lhasa. dressed as Tibetans. Colin Mackerras. a non-Han people of north-west Yunnan whose descendents have largely been classified as ‘Bai’ by the Chinese state. pp. Hosie’s journey. 14. 53. 260–2. and Ganzi.. 1988. where the tea was sold to Tibetan merchants. 18–19. Ma Zeru interview.57 Lijiang and Xizhou merchants (along with Heqing merchants) had a tradition of leading mule trains into Kham and Tibet. Batang. p. cited in Duan and Yao. 206–9. and the northern routes to Qinghai and Gansu. Rockhill. relatively small. Travels of a consular official in eastern Tibet. 277. Hosie. Mr. Litang. cited in Duan Jinlu and Yao Jide. the state classified them as Bai. Chengdu shi Yisilanjiao xiehui (The Chengdu City Islamic Association). Hosie.56 Ma Zeru. or they might wander the grasslands. 1922. The tea firms not only controlled the manufacture of brick tea but also managed the transportation and selling of tea as far as Dajianlu. 1. ‘Dali Baizu mabang’. Land. there were also powerful Tibetan merchants.59 In the twentieth century.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 227 could be found throughout Kham. although. 250–2. for instance. Eric Teichman. Most caravans carried tea or textiles north from Dali to Zhongdian or Atunzi. by later standards. 2002. 54 55 56 57 58 59 . pp. 1949. ‘Huixun’. 53 Francis Hsu found Xizhou inhabitants adamant about their Han identity. 370. Hsu. 104. Hui firms seem to have been better networked through Chengdu. Jyekundo. Rockhill. establishing permanent agents in the trade markets of Dajianlu. as well as men from communities whose ethnic affiliations were more ambiguous. After 1949. pp. Land. Shen. pp.58 By the late nineteenth century. pp. who thought of themselves as Han but spoke a TibetoBurman Bai dialect as their first language and were recognized by outsiders as minjia. William Rockhill and Eric Teichmen. a number of firms would develop the abilities to operate on even greater geographical scales. p. 22. Modern China. Francis L. p. pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rockhill. the monks also worked closely with firms importing tea and exporting sheep. and their practical monopoly accounts to a great extent for their wealth’. pp. Chinese firms gained access to locally produced goods and to credit in a region without banks. there were two firms acting as commercial agents for the local monastery. which provided goods and revenue. Mr. The monasteries extended their interests beyond local landholding and moneylending. and Tibetan companies. p. monasteries attracted merchants. Thus. 284–5. . Monasteries controlled agricultural production. p. using their partners to monopolize access to outside markets. they were also the sites for markets.64 The agents organized purchases of tea and other goods that were then shipped to Lhasa or Shigatze. Diary.62 Such connections represented crucial networking for each group. 122–3. dictate their terms to the lay population. all of which was purchased by the monastery and sent to Dajianlu for export. During a careful investigation into Dajianlu’s commerce. monasteries housed hundreds or even thousands of monks and.000 ounces of gold per annum.. The lamaseries are gigantic trade concerns. Land. Monasteries sent monks to Dajianlu to act as purchasing agents. According to Hosie. 344–5. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H The Shaanxi and Yunnan firms that emerged in the late nineteenth century were not the only powerful trade institutions. 79. like the fortified residences (dzong) of local hereditary elites. Lhasa merchants leveraged their connections to India. and medicines at the Kumbum monastery fair near Xining. who . dominated the export of gold dust. p. . Tibetan border worlds. therefore. Lhasa-based merchants developed far-reaching networks – and not just to Kham: in 1891–92. but they also relied on Khampa brokers whose lifestyles and livelihoods depended on cross-cultural negotiating skills. Diary. In Batang.. Because of their control of goods and their relatively large populations. saffron. Ibid.63 While the Kham monasteries such as Litang and Batang developed networks with Chinese firms to help them extend their commercial power. pp. 67. They also used the firms to purchase imports in Dajianlu that could be sold in Kham. 357.65 In building networks to Xining and Dajianlu. Rockhill. In Kham. In Litang and Batang. pp. .60 Litang’s monastery. Rockhill. the [Batang] trade is almost entirely in the hands of the lamas. commerce enriched an established religio-political hierarchy. 70. Ibid. for example. most local peoples did not have the economic agency that Scott envisions for other Zomian communities. Lhasa-based monasteries and lay merchants acted across longer distances. Hosie. also stationed permanent agents in Dajianlu. Gold washers working Litang’s streams produced about 2. In addition to controlling the gold trade. Instead. thus limiting local herdsmen’s and gold-washers’ access to export avenues. pp. 80. ‘As at Litang. Coales found that 60 61 62 63 64 65 Van Spengen. Hosie’s journey.61 The link between Chinese firms and monasteries was not unique to Litang.j 228 j C . about which little is known. Rockhill encountered Lhasa merchants and their wives selling cloth. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries possessed considerable power to manage trade.

2006. there were entire families called xiejia who. incense. p. While Qing officials and troops operated out of the major towns. He proceeds to [Dajianlu] . assembles a caravan of ponies and mules and lades them with Tibetan goods. ‘Economic notes’. Millward noted how Han merchants ‘function on the frontier only with the assistance of innkeepers who know the local people and customs’. taking a 4% commission for their troubles. Forgotten kingdom. say at Lhasa. political power was multilayered. Coales. interpreters. were commercial liaisons who linked Han and Hui merchants with Mongol and Tibetan producers. a hereditary Khampa ruler who was recognized as the Mingzheng tusi. such as woolen cloth. London: John Murray. and gold and silver in bullion or coin. wishing to purchase tea and silk. ‘China’s last imperial frontier: statecraft and locality in Qing Kham Tibet. rugs. ‘Economic notes’. The Qing extended its power into the area during the eighteenth century.67 The role of the broker was both culturally and economically central to the operation of the Dajianlu trade. for instance. 21–2.71 As a result. These are the houses of the local Tibetan gentry. 6. She organized collective meals. 51. too. but its soldiers and influence were concentrated in the trading towns. Carnegie Mellon University. Lhasa’s Dalai Lama regime exercised its influence. Rockhill. but also arranged for packaging and transport of tea for Tibetan merchants. there were Qing officials and soldiers appointed by the Sichuan provincial administration. Peter Goullart. 73. and creditors. for instance.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 229 A merchant. To understand state roles requires some knowledge of Kham’s political geography. indispensable to the ongoing operation of trade networks. There was also the powerful Chala Jyelbo. states were important actors. foreign sundries from India. like the guozhuang. there were Qing officials and soldiers. They provided interpreting services that translated multiple business cultures.70 She was. a crucial set of skills passed down from generation to generation.66 The guozhang were crucial for merchants from all backgrounds. . While merchants and brokers created trade networks. p. 1955. ‘Chinese border’. brought in Khampa entertainers. 245. pp. 1890–1911’.68 In Xining and various towns in Gansu. local hereditary rulers (called ‘native officials’ or tusi by the Qing) and monasteries held power elsewhere. Xiuyu Wang. and his or her function (many guozhuang were women) mirrors that of intermediaries on China’s other trade frontiers. 46–8. p. 66 67 68 69 70 71 Coales. 244–5. In his study of wool. . At Litang. ‘Musk’.69 In Lijiang. and made her clients – who were referred to her by a son in Lhasa – comfortable for stays that lasted one or two months. like all brokers. pp. Clements. p. . Land. PhD thesis. pp. the long-term resident Peter Goullart was befriended by a female innkeeper whose work with Tibetan merchants required more than just providing a business venue. Here he puts up at one of the [dzong] or [guozhuang]. They not only brought buyers and sellers together. These innkeepers were brokers. In Dajianlu. who undertake to entertain the merchants on condition of being their go-betweens and interpreters in dealing with the Chinese. In other places. Millward. Millward nicely describes the guozhuang’s role in ‘Chinese border’.

and.j 230 j C . 1951–1955. see Rockhill. In the post-war period. 346–7. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H as well as a local tusi. made an impact on trade in a number of different ways. . 193. For Lhasa influence in Kham monasteries. Goldstein. state power in the Kham borderlands – whether exercised by local elites or emanating from China or Tibet – remained multilayered. 2007. 1902. 81–116. London: John Murray. Sarat Chandra Das. volume 2: the calm before the storm. see ibid. and incomplete. with their multiple connections to Kham. the trade was terminated because of US regulations against trading with communist nations. The Qing state regulated and benefited from the tea trade. pp. contested.. Other officials. After Chinese troops entered Tibet. and Lhasa’s support for it continued into the post-Qing period when Tibet operated under de facto independence. Rockhill arrived in Batang to find the Khampa deba (hereditary ruler) speaking Chinese with a Sichuanese accent. but Lhasa maintained a level of influence through its appointment of monastic leaders. Throughout the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. which allowed officials to demand pack animals and porters to move goods. appointed from Lhasa. pp. Journey to Lhasa and central Tibet. taxed tea exports to Tibet. At Dajianlu. But officials did more than tax commerce. and Khampa men about town wearing the queue. Berkeley. and Beijing. A history of modern Tibet. like the Qing. was linked to cultural developments. and the Lhasa government arranged caravans to China or India. 52–3. pp. like those in Litang. While local elites adopted some Chinese and Qing practices.73 The Lhasa government represented another layer of state involvement in trade. In 1891. who also happened to control local trade. Merchants sought alliances with monastic officials. Qing officials lined their pockets with tax monies earned from tea imports. 263–4. in turn. and the exercise of power were still influenced by states. some of whom were. Tibetan merchants exported millions of pounds of wool through India to the United States.74 The caravan trade thus financed state activity. Yet the movement of goods.76 The acquisition of new languages or changes in personal appearance and everyday practice were common in Kham. a hairstyle required of Qing China’s male subjects. both Qing officials and the local tusi benefited from the tea trade. whether Qing or Tibetan. yet they were also complex and multidirectional. some participated in it. Rockhill. The Chala Jyelbo.72 This array of religious and lay officials. Rockhill. 359. Land.75 An analysis of Kham trade reveals how trade networks were often linked to state power. depending on the political situation. for example. designed to purchase Sichuan silks. the focus shifted to Indian routes and. became ‘thoroughly 72 73 74 75 76 For expert insight into Kham politics. p. 182–3. Along these routes travelled at least two annual government caravans. the building of merchant networks. Diary. Officials could make money either trading goods using subjects’ ula pack animals or by over-reporting the numbers of animals used on official journeys and pocketing surplus expense money. Diary. pp. up until 1951. Lhasa. Melvyn C. Its officials could also demand ula. meanwhile. used their offices as well as the infrastructure of protected routes and government lodging houses to engage in trade themselves. they financed a system of lodging houses on the routes into Kham. Chinese also learned Tibetan ways: Sichuanese peddlers. and this. pp. CA: University of California Press. Qing participation was linked to state control of transport labour and animals through the ula system.

Shangren yu jindai Zhongguo xinan bianjiang shehui (Merchants and modern China’s south-western frontier society). the imperial government fell. and such reckoning sometimes meant acquiring new practices that allowed them to integrate into those networks. Several years later. although there were remarkable firms from other regions. implying that. While the political upheavals are well known.80 This article focuses on the Heqing. dipping his finger in his wine or tea cup before drinking’. in manners. and moreover in religion’. notably Ma Qixiang’s Xingshunhe. as Scott argues. although cultural development in Zomia might involve state-resisting tactics. Ma Yunhe. sparking long-term confrontations over Tibet even as the Dalai Lama regime developed a de facto independent government. 2006. the local Qing lieutenant stationed in Ganzi ‘conformed to the local religious observances – using a rosary. and Qing resistance led to modern state-building efforts in Kham and Lhasa. according to Rockhill. Xizhou. in Duan and Yao. however. suggesting that some of the family’s forebears migrated to engage in the tea trade. Zhongguo nanfang Huizu. Since political and economic power was multilayered. The Qing state’s and Chinese merchants’ prominence encouraged local Tibetan elites to learn Chinese or wear the queue. the British sought to extend power into Tibet. meanwhile. 256–8. One way to explain such hybridity is to recognize that hierarchies of power encouraged these developments. with its roots in the Yuxi Muslim community. and. in 1911– 12. and Southeast Asia.78 The merchants who plied the grasslands searching out Tibetan customers adopted the language and dress of local nomads without losing their skills in Chinese or their identification as laoshaan. ‘Qingmo Huizu jushang Ma Qixiang (Ma Qixiang: a major Hui merchant in the late Qing)’. pp. The ‘upscaling’ of Yunnan firms The period from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century brought important changes to communities of Kham. particularly the Heqing. providing credit through monasteries. Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue. south-west China. in dress. the revolutionary commercial transformations are only now being explored. Ma Jiakui. 77 78 79 80 Rockhill.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 231 Tibetanized. and gradually abandoned Islamic practices.79 In the face of dramatic change. pp. Outsiders therefore adjusted to accommodate their ways. Locals and migrants had to reckon with states and commercial networks.77 In Zhongdian. See. and Tengchong areas. for example. in Duan and Yao. ‘Huiyi xianfu Ma Zhucai jingying Zhong-Yin maoyi (Recollections of my late father Ma Zhucai’s engagement in China–India trade)’. brought a new urgency to exploiting routes linking south-west China to Burma and Tibet (the Burma Road was built at this time). burning juniper boughs. . 331–334. a local Tibetan family now traces its ancestors back to Shaanxi’s Muslim communities. Yunnan-based caravan operators established an increasing number of more specialized firms. pp. Some of the most powerful emerged from north-west and south-west Yunnan. At the turn of the twentieth century. And the guozhuang families developed entire lifestyles around mediating between different merchant communities. Zhou Zhisheng. Zhongguo nanfang Huizu. Lhasa and local Khampa elites were also powerholders in their own right – engaging in trade. Land. the highlands were not always places in which culture or political organization was shaped by refusal. The Second World War. 398–406. and selling musk and gold.

535–55. YSJS. Shanghai. In the 1930s. 81 Yunnan Provincial Archives. which was run by men who spoke Bai as their first language. Cambridge. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. and the Burma branches (which handled imports and exports). these merchants built more complex businesses centred on south-west China but linking Kham. Yongchangxiang. Yongchangxiang’s leaders sought capital and partners from far beyond north-west Yunnan. and Tengchong firms as they increased their geographical reach. 38–9. pp. 1999. Hong Kong. 132-3-1. New communications technology helped Yunnan firms to maintain contact with branches around China and beyond. 8–17. pp. Yunnan siying jinchukou shang (Yunnanese privately managed import–export firms) (henceforth YPA. pp. by the 1940s. we can turn to corporate documents for clues as to how they built and maintained their business networks. Like other Yunnan firms. Far from limiting their cooperation to relatives or fellow merchants from the same hometown. Shanghai. Southeast Asia. India. and Hong Kong. YPA. 2006. The earliest extant family contracts reveal eighteenth-century investments in buildings and land in the Xizhou and Dali areas. also invested in real estate. see Sherman Cochran. 263. established branch offices in Tibet. the two firms collaborated to create and manage the Yunnan-Burma Raw Silk Company (Dian-Mian shengsi gongsi). 132-4-99. and consumption. a tin refinery in Guangzhou. though its founders. pp. Burma. a practice that many have denied was a part of Chinese business culture until quite recent times. then. Mandalay. and elsewhere. ‘(Re)shaping ‘‘Chinese’’ business networks in a globalising era’.82 In tracking Yongchangxiang’s (and other firms’) expansion. and branch operations in Tibet.j 232 j C . Shen. 95. 5–7. the firms often sought out diverse business partners. 106–10 and 132 3–3. Kunming. YSJS. 82 83 84 85 86 .85 Yongchangxiang also established other partnerships that allowed it operate in Shanghai and Hong Kong. In the process. 2–3. tin mining claims in Gejiu. pp. p. Letters and telegrams were frequently exchanged between the central office and the Lhasa branch (which handled the Tibet trade). P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H Xizhou. 32–7. Yongchangxiang de qiyue (Yongchangxiang’s deeds). the place of its origins. Like Yongchangxiang. however. 132-4-99. ‘Dali Baizu mabang’.86 In order to operate on larger geographical scales. The international post office system and telegraph lines kept them in contact with each other. the Tengchong firm Rongheng had. transportation. For two recent discussions from different perspectives. YSJS). MA: Harvard University Press. Yongchangxiang had its origins in the regional caravan trade. 132-2-35. Yongchangxiang zongli Yan Xiecheng siren xin (Private letters of the Yongchangxiang director Yan Xiecheng). 17. with filatures in Sichuan and a transport and marketing network that transported the silk through Yunnan to Rangoon.81 By the 1940s. pp. Chinese medicine men: consumer culture in China and Southeast Asia. pp. Kris Olds and Henry Wai-chung Yeung. YPA YSJS. Dian-Mian shengsi gongsi Sichuan caiban bu (Purchasing department of the Yunnan–Burma Raw Silk Company). the Sichuan branches (which oversaw silk production). and China’s great ports in networks of production. The allegedly closed nature of Chinese business networks has long been studied. the Yan family.83 In moving into Mandalay for instance. was aided by Chinese-speaking Han traders from Tengchong. their commercial and real estate empire included silk filatures in Sichuan.84 Particularly important to Yongchangxiang were partnerships with the successful Tengchong firm Rongheng (Moh Heng). YPA.

The dissemination of accounting and communications practices can be deduced from Jie. profits and losses. and this still required the use of pack trains.132-2-10.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 233 These communications. raw silk purchasing. Wang Youxi. ‘Qingzhengyu shanghao’. 87–8. development. moreover. At the time. For Yongchangxiang. vol. 4–18. From 1904 onwards.89 In order to act at greater distances than ever before. pp. Judging from eight extant contracts from the 1940s. and decline of Fuchungheng)’. allowing the company’s manager. helped Yongchangxiang keep closer track of cash flow. had. the Qing replaced them with Han officials. the Heqing firm of Hengshenggong maintained branches at Atunzi and Dajianlu. pp. and Shi Cilu. China Perspectives. vol. In regions where Tibetan Buddhist monastic 87 88 YPA YSJS . pp. YPA. to oversee silk production in Sichuan and to manage shipments of Gejiu tin to his Guangzhou refining factory. These innovations. they contracted with individual caravan companies and their leaders (ma guotou). ethnicity did not seem to be a barrier to cooperation in business. and commodities. Yongchangxiang developed sophisticated reporting procedures that allowed its branches to communicate with the central office by mail and telegraph. To do so. the firms used traditional practices of placing representatives (often family members) in far-flung hubs. pp. and the ability to ‘act at a distance’ represented important transformations of the caravan firms. partnerships.87 Like Rongheng. it also included changes in the contents of communication. but they also adapted to create new types of partnerships and to use new communications technologies. YPA. in Yunnan wenshi. moreover. ‘Yongchangxiang jianshi (A basic history of Yongchangxiang)’. YSJS. 132-2-35. While the firms that developed from the Yunnan caravan trade concerns made their merchant-owners wealthy. Hengshenggong did business with a number of caravan companies. the communications revolution was not limited to distance-defeating technologies of transmission. These branches frequently shipped goods via Lijiang to Kunming and beyond. 89 90 91 . 8. were systematically numbered. Su Yongjiu. some things did not change. and Tibetan politics. been apprenticed in a Heqing firm. ‘‘‘Grieving for Tibet’’: conceiving the modern state in late-Qing Inner Asia’. 3. which were diffused to other areas when men such as Su were hired away. Many firms continued to profit from the Kham trade. 43–51. some of them run by men with Chinese names. Tibet and Kham experienced frequent political upheavals. some by men with Tibetan names. 2008. Throughout the 1930s and into the wartime and post-war periods. Heqing firms were known for developing new accounting and communications procedures. 9. pp. Giersch. pp. YSJS. The firm’s first accountant. like many top north-western businessmen. 132-4-71 Hengsheng Lijiang zhuang suoshou gehuo qingce (Inventory of sales from Hengsheng’s Lijiang branch).91 In Kham regions where tusi held power. ‘Fuchunheng de xingqi fazhan ji qi yanluo (The origin. and monasteries in particular were placed under pressure. he could also monitor shipments from Burma. Yang Kecheng.90 As with Yongchangxiang and Rongheng. While new technologies.88 Such practices allowed Yongchangxiang’s general manager. 28–9. in Yunnan wenshi. Yan Xiecheng. The British invasion of Tibet (1903–04) sparked violent Qing statebuilding initiatives in its Inner Asian frontier regions. 50–2. 3–23. to track rapid changes in areas of interest to the firm: cotton textile pricing. it is less clear how Tibetan businesses fared. Once the Burma Road was built. which now came via Rongheng’s motor vehicle pool as well as by pack animal.

‘China’s last’. MA: Harvard Yenching Institute. monasteries suspected of anti-Qing activities were stripped of their lands. . 188–202. with occasional fighting breaking out between Chinese and Tibetan troops. in some cases the former tusi succeeded in trade. (2002). Other observers disagreed. Merchants from the Hor states around Ganzi. the Qing banned monastic participation in government affairs. Sources: ESRI Data & Maps [CD-ROM]. and Lhasa. Although the Qing removed hereditary Khampa leaders from power in 1905.0. took control of the Lhasa tea trade.92 These developments were only the beginning of ongoing struggles between Khampas. Available: Wellesley College Library.93 The transformation of the Yunnan companies certainly reinforces the view that China-based merchants (though not necessarily ethnic Chinese) were developing the institutions and geographical reach to gain greater control over the Kham economy. Redlands. States. CHGIS Data [CD-ROM]. 235. Once the Qing fell in 1912. the struggles over who controlled the former imperial territories continued. 59. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H Figure 1. 1913. 127. p. provinces. various Chinese states. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. Francis Kingdon Ward. 118–19. 210–12. Cambridge.94 Even as the Yunnan firms expanded their networks into Kham. authority was strong. CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute. ‘Economic notes’. for instance. and cities mentioned in the text. The land of the blue poppy: travels of a naturalist in eastern Tibet. Oliver Coales.j 234 j C . Coales found them providing new opportunities for Khampas and 92 93 94 Wang. pp. (2009). How did these changes affect commercial networks? Some argued that the political instability changed the economic balance of power in Kham in favour of Chinese. version 1.

and the promise of process geographies From the eighteenth century until the 1940s. Goullart witnessed the Tibet caravans come through Lijiang: Forgotten kingdom. Lhasa-based merchants continued to benefit from the India trade.95 Meanwhile.96 While there is not yet an easy answer to how the fluid politics and emerging international markets affected Khampa and Tibetan merchants in the twentieth century.. providing merchants and the Tibetan government with unique opportunities to invest in the India–China trade. Available: Wellesley College Library. Kham regions and towns mentioned in the text. it is possible to begin to propose some conclusions about trade networks and their impacts on Zomian communities. . when eastern China’s ports and. This was particularly true during China’s anti-Japan war (1937–45). Burma. Cambridge. Redlands. (2009). 86–7. came under Japanese control. MA: Harvard Yenching Institute.0. Recreating this past as a 95 96 Ibid. version 1. including Kham. pp. Sources: ESRI Data & Maps [CDROM]. exclusion. Inclusion. Tibetans. 245. CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute. who now had outside firms competing to do business with them.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 235 Figure 2. CHGIS Data [CD-ROM]. (2002). merchants and states created the means to routinely conduct business in parts of ‘Zomia’. p. later.

P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H narrative of networks reveals a number of insights. representing the growing global demand for wool.j 236 j C . the people who built networks of trade emerged from a variety of backgrounds. acknowledges much truth in the easy answer. trade networks. such as Haiphong and Rangoon. and developed new partnerships. but questions its simplicity and universality.97 Zhou Zhisheng reinforces Millward’s scepticism by revealing how non-Han merchants from Yunnan’s north-western towns created firms that participated in the expanding long-distance trade. and tin. and brokers who specialized in cross-cultural deals found niches in the twentieth-century transformations. re-engineered their firms to take advantage of improved accounting practices. ‘Chinese border’. who drew from knowledge of caravan routes to transform the scale on which their operations worked. Third. as well as the expanding scales on which merchants operated. Most peripherally of all. The movement of goods and people across Kham is not a simple story of exploitation. They were Khampa hereditary elites with broad powers to impose trade taxes or the connections to build trade empires. including Millward’s on Qinghai and Gansu. to focus on those who were included begs the question of exclusion. though still crucial. and Haiphong. which controlled 97 98 Millward. Second. p. Of course. Recent work. such as Hong Kong and Shanghai. nor can it be understood only in terms of Zomian agency and freedom. connected Kham to East Asian metropolises. . they incorporated new technologies of communication. we can see the production of a space that might be called Zomia (though it could also be called something else). but there are some tentative points to be made. constructed by merchants and states. established in Shanghai. Tibetan caravan companies. To do so. Rangoon. Nevertheless. Earlier histories of China’s borderlands focused on how Han economic penetration impoverished indigenous peoples. moreover. whether of indigenous peoples by Qing officials and Han or of Chinese and Tibetans by European imperialists. requires significant attention beyond this article’s scope. This is not to say that power and exploitation were absent. we must be careful in how we portray the relationship between Zomia’s highlanders and the valley states and peoples that surrounded them. self-identified. however. it is still unclear how certain merchants. The easy answer to exclusion was local (non-Chinese) peoples. First. Hong Kong. and to Southeast Asian ports. especially those from Xizhou. Zhou. It also reveals that Khampa merchants. The creation of trade networks therefore included an interesting range of participants. Litang’s monastery. relying on their office and control over ula. musk. In tracing the origins of Yongchangxiang. Shangren yu jindai Zhongguo. the movement of goods and people across Kham and the commodification of its resources is not a simple story of exploitation. In examining the flows of goods and people. the creation of these networks demonstrated the power of states and merchants to ‘act at a distance’ in Kham. thus. They were Han Chinese and minjia traders. this article tentatively confirms Zhou’s findings and demonstrates that firms formed by men who spoke Chinese as a second language cooperated with Han firms in their mutual efforts to extend the scale and profitability of their business empires. suggesting that future studies must adopt more sophisticated approaches to identity. They were Qing or Tibetan officials. The story of exclusion. they were European companies. 13.98 Scott goes further in suggesting that highland peoples manipulated trade relations for themselves.

From the eighteenth century through to the early twentieth century.102 Teichman also found the grasslands north of Ganzi to be an uncontrolled region. where predation on trade caravans became part of life. resulting in small-scale. Many were excluded from such practices. however. the exploitative practices of ula were an additional method for creating boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. Similarly. and organized themselves in ways to enhance their autonomy. pp. buying cheaply the goods that might be sold dear in market towns. 100 Giersch. they could not control all territories.. Although the Tibetan and Chinese states stationed troops along trade routes. Asian borderlands. Those with contacts in the markets. These changes suggest that networks. access to capital. Rockhill noticed that Tibetans often refused ula to Qing officials. 77. As Scott would predict. it is therefore difficult to separate political power from economic or cultural transformations. 102 Ibid. in the case of monasteries. pp. p. Nineteenth-century observers recognized this: Rockhill learned from French missionaries that Yunnanese merchants exploited the Lisu groups with whom they traded. 143–4. 101 Rockhill. Travels. and their exclusion demonstrates a lack of control over their place in expanding commerce dominated by merchant networks. 336–7. not shun or hijack. . The excluded were not entirely powerless. plundered trade routes. networks of power or wealth. 165. But people also adopted new practices out of a desire to participate in. Even in eras before the arrival of nation-states. the Qing and Tibetan states provided moderately safe trade routes. and those who benefited included local elites. influenced behaviour. prevented prospectors from mining gold. or. local peoples sometimes refused ula extractions. such as the Khampa rulers of Chala or the monastic leaders in Litang. which were controlled to maximize the monastery’s profit. power in Zomia was not exercised through the institutions of modern nation-states but empires and local regimes were able to extend their limited reach into certain areas. and thus we also find 99 Rockhill. This explains why some locals began to adhere to certain Chinese and Qing practices: speaking Chinese. he concluded that ula services were still quite oppressive.103 These brief accounts suggest that Zomia included peoples who resisted states. or coercive power over transport labour might enrich themselves by using others to gather musk or to transport profitable goods. Those who lived far from trade routes had fewer options for selling their products. well-established Han processes for gaining advantage over borderlands peoples. for instance. pp. merchants who plied remote regions often established monopsonies. Land. were particularly notorious for their brigands. but stopped short of claiming that this was some sort of triumph. which may have led to more profits and autonomy for miners. The lands around Batang. In fact. pp. In Kham. 284–5. and state representatives from Tibet or China. whether state or commercial. seeking Chinese merchant-partners. scattered operations.100 In the case of Kham.99 The practices of usury and monopsony were. Diary. local elites. in fact. The policies channelled prospectors into gold-washing. 103 Teichman. adopting the queue.101 Organized banditry was another response to exclusion. 328–9.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 237 the local gold trade.

1865–1915. 105 Quote from Vink. Premeditation was impossible because local peoples helped define the evolving geographies of state and technologies of control through their efforts at evasion. Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. Leach. pp. 3. perhaps only temporarily. and Kachin highlanders adapted Tai practices.j 238 j C . the act of conceiving and then demarcating the frontier was a contingent – not a premeditated – process. Stanford. as responses to the multilayered networks of power that were constructed throughout these regions – a pattern replicated elsewhere.104 Zomia was not always a place in which culture or political organization was shaped by refusal. and his insights provide a possible next step for studies of Zomia and other dynamic regions: to explore the histories of how nation-state space was imagined and then. Political systems of highland Burma: a study of Kachin social structure. both Clare Anderson and Markus Vink have lauded work ‘in which regions can be conceptualized as both dynamic and interconnected’. 104 Giersch. through contingent policies. 8. 106 Eric Tagliacozzo. ‘Indian Ocean studies’. 377. we cannot understand how the colonial states demarcated borders or developed new technologies for frontier control without examining how they conceived of mobile people and smuggling ‘along a three-thousand-kilometer stretch of land and sea in colonial Southeast Asia’.au/login?uri¼/journals/journal_of_colonialism_ and_colonial_history/v008/8. In the Sino-Southeast Asian borderlands. In emphasizing the production of new spatial connections. Shepherd. connected populations. p. Secret trades. this article implicitly engages other works employing process geography. 1600–1800. the networks of alternative geographies. Bell and Sons. 2007.106 For colonial regimes in Batavia and Singapore. According to Tagliacozzo. 52. Such an understanding of acculturation relies on arguments introduced by John Shepherd for eighteenth-century Taiwan. CT: Yale University Press. 2005. 189–99. porous borders. In other words. 1954. Hani. The hybridity found throughout Kham can be explained. which examines the dynamics of colonial state-building in response to the mobile. rather than stressing static trait geographies. in part. John R. it demonstrates the importance of applying process geography methods across a wide span of geographical scales and time periods. but it is also compelling for assessing the complex and multidirectional cultural changes elsewhere. . Asian borderlands. In other words. for instance. London: G. P A T T E R S O N G I E R S C H Chinese adopting Tibetan ways. porous borders: smuggling and states along a Southeast Asian frontier.105 The advantages of doing so are revealed in studies such as Eric Tagliacozzo’s Secret trades. pp. 362.html (consulted 30 March 2010). CA: Stanford University Press. see also Clare Anderson. people adopted the practices of others because those practices proved beneficial. Tagliacozzo’s work demands investigation into how states and other institutions both conceive of space and develop responses to dynamic networks of mobile. enforced in ways that engulfed.uq. ‘‘‘Process geographies’’ of mobility and movement in the Indian Ocean: a review essay’. waterborne peoples and commodities of insular Southeast Asia. including the areas (and changes) charted by Edmund Leach in his classic Political systems of highland Burma. they were beneficial because others had power and wealth. 1993. http://muse. Tai and highlanders acculturated to Han Chinese ways just as Akha. Edmund R. New Haven. The most compelling explanation for this lies in their efforts to maximize opportunities to integrate themselves into changing political and commercial situations controlled by others.3anderson. 362–3. In recent reviews of Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian studies. Statecraft and political economy on the Taiwan frontier.

In fact.108 These intimate metaphors were designed to help Chinese readers imagine frontiers as integral to their own lives. and even lifestyles (Yan sent his son to Europe in 1934 and built a villa on the shores of Erhai Lake with materials imported from India via Tibet!) were simultaneously at odds with a different type of ‘production of space’. the new revolutionary China sought. at times. Wellesley. and the post-war intellectual world built the institutional and conceptual barriers that would structure contemporary Area Studies. pp. Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue. He is the author of Asian borderlands (2006) and is currently working on the issues of trade. . combined with the rise of national geography. 107 For Yan’s lifestyle and his son’s travels. the geographical scales of operation and kinship included south-west China. walled off from the outside world. India. perhaps. As British and French interests threatened Tibet and Yunnan. networks. which worked to erase the existence of Zomia. ‘Jingying Meng Zang yi baozun Zhongguo lun (shang) (Managing Mongolia and Tibet in order to preserve China)’. Qingmo Minchu Zang shi ziliao xuanbian 1877–1919 (Selected sources on Tibetan affairs during the late Qing and early Republic. 28 June 1908. ed. Southeast Asia. 56–7. pp. 109 I cover the origins of modern Chinese images of Tibet in ‘Grieving’. and the Cold War and its conflicts in Southeast Asia. but they also served to create powerful discourses of a China that must be defended and.. the metaphors of the past – which identified these places as ‘wastelands’ – were replaced in the 1900s by more intimate images: China was a traditional courtyard house threatened by bandits or a body afflicted with illness. For these men. 48–64. and inequality in south-west China. geography. and India were destroyed. Yan Xiecheng of Yongchangxiang and Wang Youxi of Rongheng imagined their future to lie in the colonial ports where their jointly funded Yunnan-Burma Raw Silk Company exported its products. see Yang Kecheng. Southeast Asia. namely the imagined geography of the nation being created by Chinese urban elites. helped – until quite recently – to erase even the perception of pre-existing institutions for linking these regions. Chinese reformers and revolutionaries used new media outlets to create and then imbue with emotion the imagined geography of an embattled China. newspaper accounts recast these peripheral lands as integral to the national body. in the late 1940s. 15–17. Kham.107 From the 1890s onwards.j P R O C E S S G E O G R A P H I E S A N D Z O M I A j 239 It is easy to speculate that. 1877–1919). and the merchant networks that had connected south-west China to Kham. (Tokyo) Da tong bao (Da tong newspaper). 108 Rong Sheng. to do just that. and. Massachusetts. anti-colonial and nationbuilding efforts in Southeast Asia.109 During the complex machinations of the Chinese Revolution. which needed strengthening to keep the bandits out. Pat Giersch is Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College. of course. This was true for Chinese and for others. in Lu Xiuzhang. Borderland places such as Tibet were the courtyard walls. But their activities. ‘Yongchangxiang jianshi’. 2005. pp. 7. These political changes.

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