- Fellowship year:2022-2023
- University: University of Pennsylvania
- Dissertation Topic/Category: China
- Dissertation Title: Farmlands, Grasslands, and Woodlands: Changing Landscapes in the Chinese- Mongol Borderlands, 1370–1620.
Ting-chih Wu’s dissertation is tentatively titled “Farmlands, Grasslands and Woodlands: Changing Landscapes in the Chinese-Mongol Borderlands, 1370-1620.” It examines territorial perceptions, land use, and state formation at the Chinese-Mongol borders in northern and northwestern Ming China, especially in the regions of contemporary northern Shanxi, northern Shaanxi, and Ningxia. By focusing on the Ming empire’s border infrastructures, this dissertation explores how border residents’ movements and local environment shaped the Ming empire’s border enterprise. His research benefits from interdisciplinary approaches to examine national and local bureaucratic records, stone epigraphs, and historical remains, as well as GIS maps.
This dissertation examines how the Ming Chinese empire’s (1368-1644) border infrastructures shaped and were shaped by local landscapes and local residents’ needs for natural resources in the Chinese-Mongol borderlands from the late 14th century to the early 17th century. By taking the Ming empire’s rulership in Northern and Northwestern China as an example, this dissertation highlights the role of nature and local residents in shaping the Ming empire’s borderlands. This dissertation also focuses on a significant yet often neglected aspect— the management of diverse landscapes in native Han Chinese regimes, i.e., the management of farmlands, grasslands and woodlands in the Chinese hinterland. Different from earlier scholarship that mainly focuses on Chinese people’s agricultural expansion, this dissertation examines how the Ming empire and local residents developed diverse forms of lands for public and private land use. By studying the distribution of landscapes at borders and how the Ming empire managed them, this dissertation contends that the Ming empire’s border infrastructures were not just for controlling people’s movements, but also for controlling nature and natural resources. This dissertation thus crosses the field of the history of borderlands and environmental history.