Long-term association between climate change and agriculturalists' migration in historical China

Qing PEI, Harry F. LEE, David D. ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Based on 1686 records of agriculturalists' migration and 4417 events of social crisis (wars, famines, and epidemics) together with various statistical methods, we constructed a conceptual model that includes both climatic and social factors to explain the long-term dynamics of agriculturalists' migration in historical China over the last two millennia. Also, we framed our research under the paradigm of environmental humanities to help reinterpret the influence of long-term climate change on human migration. Our statistical results quantitatively analyzed and evidenced the reluctance of agriculturalists toward migration as a general feature of history in China. Yet, at the long-term and large spatial scale, climate change can exert indirect effects on agriculturalists' migration by contributing to social crisis, which is a more direct trigger. Based on our statistical results and existing literature, the attitude toward migration of agriculturalists and pastoralists in historical China was compared in a quantitative perspective. Finally, a traditional notion 'Mandate of Heaven' in relation to agriculturalists' migration was revisited. Our findings may have an important implication in comprehending the cultural barriers of human adaption to climate change in Chinese history. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-216
JournalThe Holocene
Volume28
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Citation

Pei, Q., Lee, H. F., & Zhang, D. D. (2018). Long-term association between climate change and agriculturalists' migration in historical China. The Holocene, 28(2), 208-216. doi: 10.1177/0959683617721325

Keywords

  • Agriculturalist-pastoralist comparison
  • Agriculturalists' migration
  • Chinese history
  • Climate change
  • Environmental humanities
  • Social crisis

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