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Ecologies of Empire: From Qing Cosmopolitanism to Modern Nationalism

Ecologies of Empire: From Qing Cosmopolitanism to Modern Nationalism Abstract: According to modern ecological theory, ecosystems are fragile combinations of diverse elements, and their resilience—or ability to recover after external shocks—varies as the system develops. Under conditions of low resilience, the system can collapse unpredictably and shift into a new state. Biodiversity in ecosystems, however, helps to maintain resilience. These basic natural principles also help to illuminate the social processes of empires. Like ecosystems, empires expand, grow, and collapse unpredictably when they lose the ability to respond to external shocks. Just as biodiversity increases resilience, imperial formations prosper when they are more cosmopolitan, incorporating diverse cultural elements that foster institutional innovation, and they suffer collapse when they limit participation by outside challengers. The author develops this analogy between ecosystems and imperial formations through a discussion of the Ming and Qing empires, concluding with reflections on the Maoist production system and the current resilience of China today. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review University of Hawai'I Press

Ecologies of Empire: From Qing Cosmopolitanism to Modern Nationalism

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University
ISSN
2158-9674
Publisher site
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Abstract

Abstract: According to modern ecological theory, ecosystems are fragile combinations of diverse elements, and their resilience—or ability to recover after external shocks—varies as the system develops. Under conditions of low resilience, the system can collapse unpredictably and shift into a new state. Biodiversity in ecosystems, however, helps to maintain resilience. These basic natural principles also help to illuminate the social processes of empires. Like ecosystems, empires expand, grow, and collapse unpredictably when they lose the ability to respond to external shocks. Just as biodiversity increases resilience, imperial formations prosper when they are more cosmopolitan, incorporating diverse cultural elements that foster institutional innovation, and they suffer collapse when they limit participation by outside challengers. The author develops this analogy between ecosystems and imperial formations through a discussion of the Ming and Qing empires, concluding with reflections on the Maoist production system and the current resilience of China today.

Journal

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture ReviewUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 31, 2013

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