Deluge and Reconstruction: Modernist Developmentalism in the Huai River Basin, 1927-37
The period from 1890 to 1937 marked a decisive shift from the “agrarian developmentalism” of the late imperial era to a new political ecology linking industrialization, technocratic planning, and novel sources of energy to the problem of state sovereignty. Stephen R. Halsey uses a case study of water control in the Huai River basin during the Nationalist period to assess the assumptions, aims, and institutional structures that fostered these important changes. The “modernist developmentalism” that emerged represents a highly distinctive local iteration of a shared global paradigm, casting doubt on interpretations that view China either as a typical “late developer” or as possessing a unique environmental history in the 20th century.
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