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A Hierarchy of Geographies: A Skinnerian Model of Indochina’s Overseas Chinese Congrégations and Their Influence on French Colonialism

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In Indochina, overseas Chinese were organized by dialect group into associations called congregations, which shared many of the functions of huiguan in China. The spread of overseas Chinese economic and social networks followed a Skinnerian model in which large urban conǵrégations wielded more political and economic authority than did smaller, rural conǵrégations. By examining the impacts of French colonialism upon overseas Chinese networks within Indochina and upon overseas connections with their Chinese native places, this paper proposes that the Skinnerian model of local-system hierarchy fits quite comfortably when applied to the world of French colonial Indochina and its overseas Chinese. Furthermore, it argues that French colonialism actually reinforced the Skinnerian hierarchy of politics and markets in ways that endured long after the collapse of Imperial China.


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