Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

6/1/2007 - 5/31/2008

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Engineering a State of Nature: Hydraulic Transformations on the North China Plain, 1949-1999

FAIN: FA-52180-06

David Pietz
Arizona Board of Regents (Pullman, WA 99164-0001)

This research will two important issues. First, how water resources on the North China Plain have been compromised by engineering practices after 1949. Second, in light of increasing ubanization, industrialization, and population growth, this research can suggest how hydraulic practices influence contemporary environmental challenges, and suggest the range of socially determined choices available as China continues to build "wealth and power." This project will also contribute to a comparative understanding of the influences exerted by the state, technology, and nature in developing countries. The focus on China will also give a more nuanced view of the environmental legacies faced by post-socialist economies.

Associated Products

The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China (Book)
Title: The Yellow River: The Problem of Water in Modern China
Author: David A. Pietz
Abstract: Flowing through the heart of the North China Plain—home to 200 million people—the Yellow River sustains one of China’s core regions. Yet this vital water supply has become highly vulnerable in recent decades, with potentially serious repercussions for China’s economic, social, and political stability. The Yellow River is an investigative expedition to the source of China’s contemporary water crisis, mapping the confluence of forces that have shaped the predicament that the world’s most populous nation now faces in managing its water reserves. Chinese governments have long struggled to maintain ecological stability along the Yellow River, undertaking ambitious programs of canal and dike construction to mitigate the effects of recurrent droughts and floods. But particularly during the Maoist years the North China Plain was radically re-engineered to utilize every drop of water for irrigation and hydroelectric generation. As David A. Pietz shows, Maoist water management from 1949 to 1976 cast a long shadow over the reform period, beginning in 1978. Rapid urban growth, industrial expansion, and agricultural intensification over the past three decades of China’s economic boom have been realized on a water resource base that was acutely compromised, with effects that have been more difficult and costly to overcome with each passing decade. Chronicling this complex legacy, The Yellow River provides important insight into how water challenges will affect China’s course as a twenty-first-century global power.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780674058248
Copy sent to NEH?: No