Encroaching the Frontier: Boundaries and Diaspora in Ming and Qing China

David Faure, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Ng Chin-keong. Boundaries and Beyond: China’s Maritime Southeast in Late Imperial Times. Singapore: NUS Press, 2016. 497 pp. $56 (cloth).

Steven B. Miles. Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570-1850. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. 346 pp. $50 (cloth).

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The two books being reviewed here do not really speak to a shared theme. Historian Ng Chin-keong's Boundaries and Beyond consists of selections from Ng's writings over the years about the development of maritime trade in Fujian Province in the Ming and Qing dynasties, while fellow historian Steven B. Miles's Upriver Journeys is his second attempt to probe the Cantonese travelers and settlers on their journeys into Guangxi (see Miles 2006). Yet, in a loose way, both books fit into the broad field now described as "Chinese diaspora" studies. "Diaspora" research deals not only with people traveling out from China but also with the impact of those migrants on their home territories. While most diaspora research follows the history of overseas Chinese, much of the diaspora logic applies also to migration within China. Miles indicates as much in his book's title...