West River Inscriptions project

Principal Investigator: Steven B. Miles, Washington University in St. Louis. During the past five centuries, migrant Cantonese (natives of the Pearl River delta in China’s Guangdong Province) have created a diaspora with trajectories spanning not only vast parts of China but also stretching across five continents. This project is developing a database intended to help researchers trace the commercial networks that supported one of these diasporic trajectories, upstream along the West River (Xijiang 西江) basin in southern China.

Most of the inscriptions incorporated into the database as of January 2017 are analyzed in Steven B. Miles, Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570-1850 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2017). But this is an ongoing project, and more inscriptions will be added to the database as research continues.