Project

The State of the River: Three Thousand Years of Imperial Engineering in North China

Program

China Studies Program Dissertation Fellowships , ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowships

Department

History and World Cultures

Abstract

“The State of the River” is an event database, a geographic information system, and a book about the history of the Yellow River. Collectively these works explain how a central state—with limited knowledge and resources, and with contradictory objectives in the core and the periphery of the empire—lived with and attempted to manage one of the world’s most unpredictable hydrological systems. Owing to the remarkable cultural, linguistic, and political continuity of Chinese civilization, records of human responses to catastrophes and environmental degradation along the river, and their efforts to turn the river to human advantage, constitute a 3,000 year documentary corpus and the basis for a new work of digtial infrastructure.