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This essay reexamines the hoary old conceit of the Asiatic mode of production (AMP) in its initial posing in Chinese historiography in the 1930s and in its reemergence in the 1990s. The intranational comparative allows for an analysis of the AMP not only as a form of global economic history but also as a form of cultural condemnation and contemporary desire. In the latter form, its contemporary linkage to the centrality of the state permits the AMP to return in the 1990s as a positive marker of Chinese state-cultural continuity rather than a negative marker of Chinese economic stagnation. Taking...

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