Fall 2023

Market, Capital, and Business Institutions in Traditional China

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-471  |  History, as HIST-471


George Qiao (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 471 [AS/TC/TS/P] and ASLC 471.) China’s successful market reforms and recent rise as an economic superpower has led to increasing scholarly interests in the historical roots of China’s commercial prowess. In this research seminar, we will study China’s time-honored entrepreneurial tradition and the making of market and business institutions between the mid-sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries when China experienced explosive commercial development. We will read both primary sources and modern scholarship on the organization and culture of the marketplace and engage with important historiographic topics, such as the political economy of empires, the relationship between state and business, the culture of merchant communities, the legal framework of commerce, the infrastructure of long-distance trade, financial instruments of transactions, organizations of business enterprises, the history of China’s commercial relationship with the outside world, and the transformative impact of commerce and capital on social and familial structures. Throughout the course, we will together ponder some of Chinese history’s most intriguing questions: while the development of commerce in early modern Europe had led to the rise of capitalism in the West, did explosive commercial growth push Chinese society onto a similar path? Was there capitalism in early modern China? Moreover, can we discern any connections between China’s entrepreneurial tradition and its modern development? No prior knowledge of Chinese history is assumed or required. This course meets once a week. 

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Qiao.

Pending Faculty Approval

How to handle overenrollment: History and ASLC majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, research, oral presentation, and reading skills. Requirements include short response papers and topical essays.

ASLC 471 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM WEBS 217

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Elusive Capital Edward Elgar Publishing Gipouloux, Francois TBD


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023