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RICE CYCLES AND PRICE CYCLES: LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND GLOBAL TRADE IN KOREA, 1870–1933

RICE CYCLES AND PRICE CYCLES: LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND GLOBAL TRADE IN KOREA, 1870–1933 This article examines a hitherto neglected aspect of the expansion of international trade in nineteenth-century East Asia—that of how ordinary people understood changing trade patterns. Rather than the political debates and imperial competition that have been the focus of existing research, I use the diary of Sim Wŏn’gwŏn (1850–1933), a farmer from Ulsan, southeastern Korea, to assess how knowledge shaped Sim’s perception of, and response to, the international grain trade. Sim used his diary to develop an economic world view based on his observation of cyclical, seasonal changes in the weather, harvests, and prices. While this enabled Sim to anticipate some fluctuations, the international rice trade posed a challenge as local market prices began to reflect events beyond Sim’s sphere of information. I argue that uneven access to knowledge influenced Sim’s participation in international trade, which in turn cannot be understood without reference to Sim’s existing understanding of the economy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Economic Thought Cambridge University Press

RICE CYCLES AND PRICE CYCLES: LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND GLOBAL TRADE IN KOREA, 1870–1933

Journal of the History of Economic Thought , Volume 44 (1): 21 – Mar 1, 2022

RICE CYCLES AND PRICE CYCLES: LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND GLOBAL TRADE IN KOREA, 1870–1933

Journal of the History of Economic Thought , Volume 44 (1): 21 – Mar 1, 2022

Abstract

This article examines a hitherto neglected aspect of the expansion of international trade in nineteenth-century East Asia—that of how ordinary people understood changing trade patterns. Rather than the political debates and imperial competition that have been the focus of existing research, I use the diary of Sim Wŏn’gwŏn (1850–1933), a farmer from Ulsan, southeastern Korea, to assess how knowledge shaped Sim’s perception of, and response to, the international grain trade. Sim used his diary to develop an economic world view based on his observation of cyclical, seasonal changes in the weather, harvests, and prices. While this enabled Sim to anticipate some fluctuations, the international rice trade posed a challenge as local market prices began to reflect events beyond Sim’s sphere of information. I argue that uneven access to knowledge influenced Sim’s participation in international trade, which in turn cannot be understood without reference to Sim’s existing understanding of the economy.

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Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the History of Economics Society
ISSN
1053-8372
eISSN
1469-9656
DOI
10.1017/S1053837220000425
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article examines a hitherto neglected aspect of the expansion of international trade in nineteenth-century East Asia—that of how ordinary people understood changing trade patterns. Rather than the political debates and imperial competition that have been the focus of existing research, I use the diary of Sim Wŏn’gwŏn (1850–1933), a farmer from Ulsan, southeastern Korea, to assess how knowledge shaped Sim’s perception of, and response to, the international grain trade. Sim used his diary to develop an economic world view based on his observation of cyclical, seasonal changes in the weather, harvests, and prices. While this enabled Sim to anticipate some fluctuations, the international rice trade posed a challenge as local market prices began to reflect events beyond Sim’s sphere of information. I argue that uneven access to knowledge influenced Sim’s participation in international trade, which in turn cannot be understood without reference to Sim’s existing understanding of the economy.

Journal

Journal of the History of Economic ThoughtCambridge University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2022

References