The Involution Debate
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This chapter discusses an important current debate that illustrates many of the indeterminacies and historiographical challenges that have been raised in earlier chapters: a debate over the nature of China’s economic development since 1600. Was China on a path of steady growth or asphyxiating involution? Neither the facts, nor the institutional descriptions, nor the interpretations of these facts and descriptions, are yet settled. So the case presents an excellent opportunity to observe the historians at work.