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The Mule Caravans of Western Yunnan

An Oral History of the Muleteers of Zhaozhou

Ma Jianxiong and Ma Cunzhao

Mule caravans established a network across physical, political, and ethnic boundaries that integrated Southwest China, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. This article is a first exploration of this little-known mobile network. Based mainly on oral history, it focuses on the mule caravans based in Zhaozhou in western Yunnan from the late Qing to the 1940s, when the first motor roads were constructed. The investigation assembles horse and mule technologies and trade organization in detail in order to reconstruct the role and standing of transporters and their networks in local society, in the regional setting, in a volatile political environment, and in the face of challenging natural conditions.

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The Distant Sound of Mule Caravan Bells

Interview with Mr Li Zhengxiong, 19 August 2003 at Sanyi North Village, Heqing County, Yunnan

Ma Cunzhao

Sanyi consists of two villages, a northern and a southern one. In the Republican period (1912–1949) there was a “cauldron boss”1 in charge of the “northern caravan” by the name of Tenth Sister, who hailed from Sanyi North. Th e author came to the village to meet Mr Li Zhengxiong (Bai nationality, 78 years old), a grandnephew of Tenth Sister. Th e following is Mr Li’s account:

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“Orchestral Parts” in a Symphony of Motion

The Aesthetics of Coaching in the Golden Age of Horse and Carriage

Markus Poetzsch

Drawing on the work of Alfred de Vigny and Thomas De Quincey, this article examines the aesthetic appeal of coaching, a ubiquitous but little theorized mode of transport, in the golden age of horse and carriage (c. 1805–1825). The roots of Vigny's nostalgia for the shepherd's caravan and De Quincey's thrill ride on the mail-coach lie in the sympathetic connections that coaching, unlike train travel, establishes between living beings. These connections or “inter-agencies” serve in vital ways to rupture the solipsism and self-assurance of the solitary traveler, revealing his limited role in the vast plexus of nineteenth-century transport and motion.

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John Carmichael's Journey from Aleppo to Basra (1754)

A Pluralized View of the Enlightenment Discourse of Improvement

Mohammad Sakhnini

This article shows how the Enlightenment notion of improvement in a cross-cultural context cannot be one of constant polarization. Without ever travelling to the Middle East, the Scottish Enlightenment literati proposed that the Middle East is backward and primitive in its economic and material infrastructure. Europe is progressing while the Middle East remained stuck in ancient times. John Carmichael could not escape the European repository of knowledge about the Orient. In his “Journey from Aleppo to Basra” (1754), he sometimes considered Arabs are irrational, backward and primitive. Yet the conditions of traveling in an Arab caravan invited him to interact with the people he encountered. He socialized and exchanged services with the Arabs. At the same time he learned how modern progress needs not be looked at as one of complete banishment of ancient rituals and traditions from the past. The journey in the Middle East has its educational effects.

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Khaled Furani

inception has been studying others, may require recognizing the Other from which it dissociated itself over a century ago: theology. Imagine the modern discipline of anthropology as a bustling caravan of thought traversing the great desert of the modern