Inland Family Banking from Empire to Nation-State: Unusual Histories of Shanxi Piaohao, 1820 to 1930


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships




My research focuses on the family, banking, the state, and society in northwestern China from 1820 to 1930. Countering financial modernist assumptions that indigenous banking institutions from the Chinese interior would have faded under the influence of western imperialism, my research shows piaohao adapting to a new role as inland financial intermediaries in the export-oriented cash crop economy. Furthermore, I reveal piaohao developing symbiotic business relations with western colonial banks such as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in the littoral. I also argue that the primary reason for the Qing Dynasty’s decline lies in a decentralized fiscal system and the prolonged transition from a minimalist agrarian empire to an expanding modern fiscal state after 1850.