Drawing treasured information from the Huizhou wenshu, Joseph P. McDermott has developed two volumes of analysis titled The Making of a New Rural Order in South China to reconstruct the social and economic transformations of Huizhou from 900 to 1700. While the first volume examined the evolution of lineages in rural Huizhou from the Song to the Ming,1 the present volume focuses on the strategies that Huizhou merchants, their families, and lineage organizations deployed to conduct business from 1500 to 1700, exploring how the Huizhou merchants, one of the most powerful regional mercantile groups in late imperial China, “established a set of rural and urban institutions that linked their lineages and villages to urban markets” (p. 6). These institutions—ancestral halls, local-place associations, lineage-based commercial partnerships, and family firms—not only provided stable venues and resources for Huizhou merchants to conduct businesses in the politically unstable sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,...

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