Boundaries and Crossings: Mobility, Travel, and Society in China, 1500–1954—A Survey of the Field

in Mobility in History
Author: Yajun Mo
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Overtaking Americans and Germans as the world’s most exuberant tourism spenders, middle-class Chinese tourists have become the most coveted demographic in the global tourism market. At the same time, robust “Golden Week” tourism data, which tracks domestic tourism during the two-week national holidays in mainland China, has indicated a surge in travel within China. Viewed as a revealing lens through which one could observe Chinese modernity, travel and tourism-related activities have attracted considerable attention from scholars interested in China.1 However, marked as a “contemporary” phenomenon, tourism and travel in China seem to have remained largely outside historians’ purview. In response to calls from mobility scholars for a historical understanding of the movement of peoples, goods, and ideas since the late twentieth century, China historians have begun to examine the practice of travel and tourism, especially from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. At the same time, infl uenced by colonial discourse analysis and postcolonial theory, literary scholars have renewed their interests in Chinese travel accounts, both textual and visual, making connections between travelers’ representations and the imaginations of empire and nation-state over the past few centuries.

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