Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

The Bazi-based Transportation System and Extension of Mule Caravans on the Sino-Burmese Borderland: The Case of Zhaozhou in Western Yunnan

Tue, June 23, 2:00 to 3:55pm, South Building, Floor: 5th Floor, S525


This research explores some historical dynamics of the social extension of a Bazi (坝子) society colluded with the state maintained transportation systems between Yunnan and Burma. Some social networks were overlapped with transportation routes between Bazi basins, because the routes across Bazi basins also guaranteed the success of tributaries from exterior chieftains to the capitals since the early Ming, which confirmed the state’s All under Heaven cosmology; the significance of transportation of copper mines from western Yunnan mines to the Yangtse River ports, which guaranteed the safe of state financial system. Thus, the Zhaozhou Bazi was regarded as a sustaining support on a geopolitical network by states. Meanwhile, local elite also gradually changed their roles from the noblesse at the political center of Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms to become governmental officials, religious masters or Confucian scholars from the Ming to the Qing. In this process, reforms of policy of land tax and its bound corvee for transport service had increased the burden of local communities. As a response, pushed by local elite, communities reorganized their common property to deal with the state, and extended their networks to search for opportunities over routes. Therefore, social changes also created opportunities for local agents to reform their religious belief, as well as their extension of community-based mule caravan business. The dynamic local agency performed an active role in reconstruction of a Bazi society, and projected a changed enter-periphery relationship in historical contexts of western Yunnan.