Flourishing on the frontier: Trade and urbanization in Tang dynasty Guangzhou, 618--907 CE

Submitted by James Miller on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 10:32
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TitleFlourishing on the frontier: Trade and urbanization in Tang dynasty Guangzhou, 618--907 CE
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsFong, A. C.
Date Published2009
ISBN Number1109405456, 9781109405453
KeywordsEconomic history, History

The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), ruling at a time when the rest of Eurasia seemed to be having tremendous political and social difficulties, stands out as a period of prosperity, expansion, cultural growth, cosmopolitanism and political unity. This dissertation focuses on the port-city of Guangzhou, located on the southeastern coast of China, which was the acknowledged prime destination for maritime trade for most of the Tang dynasty. The specific historical question of this work investigates the influence of international maritime trade on the growth and expansion of Guangzhou during the Tang dynasty. The main assertion of this study is that, during the period of the Tang dynasty, Guangzhou not only grew in urban form due to the flourishing economy, but also became a multivalent symbol--representing both the culture of the imperial center and also the local characteristics of its frontier location. Ultimately, this period in Guangzhou's history would create a space for the creation of a separate Cantonese identity within the larger narrative of a Han Chinese identity. This dissertation contributes to the historical discourse on the importance of cities in pre-modern Chinese history, frontiers in Chinese history, identity formation, cross-cultural trade in pre-modern times, and the maritime connections between East and Southeast Asia.

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