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More Rules, More Floods: The Yellow River and Chinese States’ Hydraulic Efforts

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Abstract:

The Yellow River in China is certainly an unruly river. In the past 3,000 years, it caused 26 dramatic course changes and inflicted flooding disasters nearly once every year. Many of its floods killed and displaced millions of people, and drowned the area as large as the state of California. None of the other rivers in the world are wilder than this one. This paper, however, argues that the Yellow River did not become unruly until people, in particular Chinese states of various dynasties, sought to rule or tame it. The river’s history of becoming an unruly one is the three-thousand-years contests between the river’s attempts to retain its hydrological dynamics as a natural flow and human desires and efforts to control the river by regulating its course and quelling its floods, and between the states’ good wishes to turn the river into a lawful, manageable member of the human society and the unintended consequences of such wishes that often inflicted more serious flooding from the river. This paper studies two intertwining historical processes: on the one side, throughout the past two millennia states incorporated the river deeper into state affairs and experimented various hydraulic strategies to control floods and maximize the use of water resources; on the other side, with more and more rules imposed upon it, the river became more violent and, in the late 19th century, was regarded by Western observers as “China’s Sorrow.”
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Association:
Name: ASEH Conference – San Francisco
URL:
http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p676256_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Zhang, Ling. "More Rules, More Floods: The Yellow River and Chinese States’ Hydraulic Efforts" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Conference – San Francisco, Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, San Francisco, California, <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p676256_index.html>

APA Citation:

Zhang, L. "More Rules, More Floods: The Yellow River and Chinese States’ Hydraulic Efforts" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Conference – San Francisco, Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel, San Francisco, California <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p676256_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: The Yellow River in China is certainly an unruly river. In the past 3,000 years, it caused 26 dramatic course changes and inflicted flooding disasters nearly once every year. Many of its floods killed and displaced millions of people, and drowned the area as large as the state of California. None of the other rivers in the world are wilder than this one. This paper, however, argues that the Yellow River did not become unruly until people, in particular Chinese states of various dynasties, sought to rule or tame it. The river’s history of becoming an unruly one is the three-thousand-years contests between the river’s attempts to retain its hydrological dynamics as a natural flow and human desires and efforts to control the river by regulating its course and quelling its floods, and between the states’ good wishes to turn the river into a lawful, manageable member of the human society and the unintended consequences of such wishes that often inflicted more serious flooding from the river. This paper studies two intertwining historical processes: on the one side, throughout the past two millennia states incorporated the river deeper into state affairs and experimented various hydraulic strategies to control floods and maximize the use of water resources; on the other side, with more and more rules imposed upon it, the river became more violent and, in the late 19th century, was regarded by Western observers as “China’s Sorrow.”


Similar Titles:
Taming the Rivers- Flood Control and Colonial Rule in Taiwan, 1895-1945

Arid Spring and Flooded Autumn: the Yellow River and Local Society in Eastern Henan,1644-1795


 
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