016A_ Moll-Murata _Christiansen

Industrialization in Northeast Asia: A Long-Term Perspective, 1900 to Now

Panel organised by: Christine Moll-Murata (University Bochum) & Flemming Christiansen (University Duisburg-Essen)


Panel topic

Socioeconomic and Political Causes and Effects of Industrialization in Northeast Asia

Panel description

North East (and Central) Asia contribute essential resources and opportunities to realize visions of industrial and infrastructural development which have strong transnational dimensions. The narrative of the changing frontier conditions during more than a century helps to overcome the limits of national reductionism in historiography and in international political economy explanations, and shall frame conflict, inequality and systemic incongruence as potential drivers of industrialization and social development.

This panel conceptualizes the transformation of Northeast Asian traditional socioeconomic activities into a modern industry and the creation of fluid urban labour markets. It will take a secular perspective, starting from the early twentieth century. Historically, important stimuli came from the example of Japanese industrialization, which informed Chinese, Mongolian, and Manchurian indigenous industrialization efforts. After the installation of the dependent state of Manchukuo in 1932, Japan also invested directly into the planning and establishment of industrial enterprises in the Chinese North-Eastern provinces and planned to do so in Inner Mongolia (Guisui) as well. Since the 1920s the Republic of Mongolia was dominated by the Soviet Union and also experienced increasing industrialization. The Soviet Union, furthermore, in the 1930s imposed itself on Xinjiang and founded industries as part of the ambitions to strengthen its position vis-à-vis the Chinese nationalist Government. The industrial legacy in the Chinese Northeast after 1949 was a substantial element of the Chinese Communist industrialization effort, and the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union helped new large industrial complexes like those in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, to emerge. Xinjiang became an important part of the Chinese space and other military technology programs. The Chinese reforms starting in 1978 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 were important watersheds that opened up new avenues of industrial collaboration, investment, trade and the movement of people. More recently, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang became sites of agribusiness complexes of enormous dimensions, and China’s ability and determination to invest in new infrastructure in North East Asia also draws the attention of Russia and Japan on the region.

Individual papers will include analyses of the industrialization initiatives by regional and local indigenous elites, of the direct impact of subsequent Chinese, Japanese, and Russian central governments and their representatives in the regions, and the interaction of the former with the latter groups. The topics and cases will include explorations on demographic developments and urbanization, education and knowledge transfer, capital and investment, communications and infrastructure, resources and energy management. The panel thus aims at presenting Northeast Asia’s industrial dynamism and its wider qualitative meaning for global industrialization processes and the concomitant rising intensity of communication, trade, industry, and use of energy.

The two organizers are planning for a double panel. Some of the contributors have already expressed interest in participation, but the panel is still open still open to include further papers.

Paper proposal

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