Environment, Market, and Peasant Choice: The Ecological Relationships in the Jianghan Plain in the Qing and the Republic


History and Philosophy

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This article examines the economic behavior of the peasants on the Jianghan plain faced with population pressure, environmental degradation, and market expansion. Focusing on crop choices and the domestic textile industry, it explores how villagers reacted to the environmental change caused by extensive dike construction and frequent inundation in the Jianghan plain in the Qing and the Republic and how they contended with the worsening problems of waterlogging. The article argues that under these circumstances, the environment, rather than the market, was the paramount factor in shaping peasants’ economic behavior in the Jianghan plain.