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Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences Invites Professor Ma Jun-Ming to Talk About the Cause and Impact of Misgovernment and Human Error

NTU's Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences Invited Nanjing University's History Professor Ma Jun-ming to hold large scale lecture and a panel discussion separately On June 28th and 29th.

Professor Ma Jun-ming teaches at Nanjing Univesity, and is now a visiting scholar at NTU's Institute for Advanced Research in Humanities and Social Sciences. He does profound research into China's modern economic history, China's modern social life history, the social and economic studies of the Yangtze River Delta and has many unique insights. He has published many theses on the economic and social conditions of the modern Yangtze and Huai Rivers area.

The topic of Professor Ma's first lecture was:"From fertile soil tobarren land: the historical changes of the social ecology of the areas north to the Huai River". From the perspectives of a historian, he analyzed the impact on the ecological changes imposed by central government policies and human factors on the areas north to the Huai River. To the dynastic rulers, maintaining the fluent traffic of the Grand Canal was crucial to the national economy; but, to the populace living around the Grand Canal areas, it was the cause of their tragic life. Since in winter times the water level at the Grand Canal usually ran very low, the waters from River Huai needed to be poured into the Grand Canal in large amounts to keep the traffic going. So, the authorities build water reservoirs on high lands, stored water in summer while releasing them in winter. How does this affect the peasants? When they needed water in Spring and Summer to plant their crops, they faced water shortage; and when they needed to harvest their crops in Fall and Winter, they got inundated with flood. Besides environmental factors such as changes of the climate and the river route, misgovernment and human errors constituted as even greater reasons for the misfortune of the people living in the northern areas of the Huai river.

The shady deals in the officialdom of China's history divulged by Professor Ma in his lecture elicited wide echoes from the audience. Through Professor Ma's profound analyses, we were able to contemplate the complex reasons behind the deterioration of the ecological conditions of the societies northern to the Huai River. He led us to understand why in Chinese history the destinies of a few were often sacrificed for the commonwealth of the majority.

On the second day the topic of the panel discussion was: "Industrialization and the regional development of the economic structure of the Chinese peasant family." The venue was at the Department of Agricultural Economics. Panelists discussed the economic and social changes that took place between 1800 A.D. and 1950 A.D. in Jiangsu area.

Professor Ma put forth four points view toward the reasons that caused the changes in the economic structures of the peasant family and the various extents of industrialization in the Jiansu areas:

  1. The "Men plough, and women weave" economy was not tantamount to a natural economy;
  2. The decline of the handicraft industry does not equal to the expansion of the commodity economy;
  3. Industrialization does not necessarily result in the destruction of the economic structure of the peasant family. Judging from the experiences of the central Jiangsu areas, the prevalence of the family weaving machine impelled the development of the weaving industry and the handicraft industry.
  4. The development of the economy of the Chinese peasant family depends on the reasonable disposition of human resources and natural resources.

In response to Professor Ma's observations, the participating scholars offered their own research experiences and their pluralistic views. All in all, it was a very successful academic exchange. Live video clippings and bulletins have been posted on: http://ntuihs.ntu.edu.tw, interested parties are welcome to access the website.

Chinese version