The Origins of Urban Districting in Qing China:The Case of Bushu 捕屬and Bushuren捕屬人in Guangzhou
30 , 2015-09
By taking up the case of Guangzhou ,the provincial capital of Guangdong, this article examines the formation of urban administrative districts out of the jurisdictions administered by county (xian県) level officials stationed in urban areas, in order to clarify one aspect of urban administration during the Qing period.It was the dramatic population explosion and high social mobility that occurred during the mid-Qing period that forced the government to begin administering its cities separately from its rural areas. In order to deal with varying local situations, the government had to make adjustments to particular administrative systems. For example, in Guangzhou, xian-level officials, such as police chief (dianshi 典史) and assistant magistrate (xiancheng 県丞), were extensively involved in urban administrative affairs, but were primarily responsible for the districts under their jurisdiction. Beginning in the 19th century, the district under the jurisdiction of dianshi was clearly delineated as Bushu 捕属, causing urban Guangzhou to be gradually governed in a separate manner from its surrounding rural areas.As a spatial division, the Bushu was first created out of the government’s concerns about law and order. With increasing in-migration to the city, the Bushu was put in charge of collecting land taxes and registering the households of new arrivals. During the late Qing period, it was even turned into an administrative unit and became involved in public works projects.This kind of process was also closely related to delineation of jurisdictional divisions in rural areas peripheral to Guangzhou, such as the xian-level police departments (xunjiansi 巡検司) and occurred against the backdrop of interaction between a large number of bureaucratic appointees and lineage organization on the Pearl River Delta.That is to say, in the Delta region where lineage organization was in one way or another organized under the tujia 図甲 household taxation system, the perception that it was the xunjiansi that were determining household districting in the xian both fostered and expanded the continuation of lineage organization.Corresponding to such developments in the xunjiansi districts was the similar development of Bushu districts in the cities.