ABSTRACT

There is much to be remembered in history, but the legacy of history does not always need to be remembered for its influence to be felt. This is particularly so in China. Inherited patterns of population density, land use, urban settlement and cultural and linguistic differentiation have proven remarkably resilient throughout the late imperial and modern periods. The boundaries of political movements and institutions have also reflected regional and hierarchical patterns, even where political actors have not consciously set out to duplicate them.2 This should not perhaps surprise us. The Chinese state has either overlain inherited transhistorical structures, like a transparent film over a detailed contour map, or alternatively taken its shape from successive attempts to deny their salience. Either way, there is no more getting around the deep structures of history than there is around remembered history.