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Corey Ross published article in International Journal of Asian Studies

International Journal of Asian Studies / Corey Ross

Corey Ross has published an article in the renowned International Journal of Asian Studies with the title "Constrained river, constrained choices: seasonal floods and colonial authority in the Red River Delta".

The article examines the problem of flooding in colonial Tonkin through two interrelated lenses: the history of disasters as social and political phenomena, and the history of technology and the constraints that shape its use. With a gradient ten times steeper than the Mekong, the Red River (Sông Cái in Vietnamese) is notorious for its huge seasonal fluctuations and violent floods. For centuries, local rulers and cultivators constructed dikes to protect fields and settlements, though breaches and inundations were frequent. French administrators were convinced that they could improve the flooding situation with modern know-how. From the 1890s, colonial engineers carefully studied the river's behavior, examined a range of different schemes to control it, and debated the extent to which the straitjacketing of the river might gradually exacerbate flood risk. Despite their deep-seated misgivings about the problems caused by dikes, they were ultimately forced to work within the parameters of pre-colonial hydraulic works. The result was an intensification of existing dependencies and flood vulnerabilities, which finally came to a head under the combined pressures of extreme weather and war, and which ultimately played an important role in undermining colonial authority in the Red River delta.

The International Journal of Asian Studies (IJAS) is an interdisciplinary, English-language forum for research in the humanities and social sciences. Its purpose is to foster multi-directional communication in the global Asian studies community. IJAS is published by Cambridge University Press in association with the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo.

Corey Ross is Director of the Institute and Professor for European Global Studies. His expertise focuses on the history of imperialism and global environmental history in the 19th and 20th centuries. His research on the socio-environmental history of Europe’s relations with the rest of the world builds on interdisciplinarity, investigates the global, transimperial and transnational circulation of ideas, goods and people, and aims to highlight perspectives that are relevant to major present-day and future challenges.