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Discovering economic history in footnotes: the story of Tŏng Tàishēng merchant archive (1790-1850) and the historiography of modern China

Ma, Debin ORCID: 0000-0002-9604-8724 and Yuan, Weipeng (2014) Discovering economic history in footnotes: the story of Tŏng Tàishēng merchant archive (1790-1850) and the historiography of modern China. Economic History Working Paper Series (201/2014). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

The Tong Taisheng (统泰升) merchant account books in the Ninjing county of Northern China in 1800-1850 is the most complete and integrated surviving archive of a family business. It contains unusually detailed and high-quality statistics on exchange rates, commodity prices and other information. Utilized once in the 1950s, the archive has been left largely untouched until our recent, almost accidental rediscovery. Tracing the personal history of the original owner and donor, we show that the nature of evidence and records of economic statistics of China’s early 19th century, - indeed - of the entire early modern era – have been profoundly impacted by the development of political ideology and consequently of academic discipline in modern and contemporary China. Our article discusses the important historiographical and epistemological issue in interpreting surviving historical statistics which have been largely neglected in the current Great Divergence debate.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/home.aspx
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology > B4 - Economic Methodology
N - Economic History > N8 - Micro-Business History
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2014 11:22
Last Modified: 26 May 2020 23:34
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/56332

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