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Kenneth Pomeranz

Kenneth Pomeranz
Kenneth Pomeranz at American Historical Association 2014
At American Historical Association 2014
Born (1958-11-04) November 4, 1958 (age 60)
AwardsFellow of the British Academy
Academic background
Alma materCornell University; Yale University
Academic work
Main interestsComparison of China to industrial Europe (Great Divergence)
trade history
Notable worksThe Great Divergence

Kenneth Pomeranz, FBA (born November 4, 1958) is University Professor of History at the University of Chicago.[1] He received his B.A. from Cornell University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1988, where he was a student of Jonathan Spence.[2] He then taught at the University of California, Irvine, for more than 20 years. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2006.[3] In 2013–2014 he was the president of the American Historical Association.


Pomeranz's research has moved in three related directions. The first is the study of the reciprocal influences of state, society and economy in late Imperial and twentieth-century China. His first book, The Making of a Hinterland: State, Society and Economy in Inland North China, 1853–1937 serves as a prism through which to view several themes: the re-orientation of the Chinese state from a focus on social reproduction (especially in ecologically marginal areas) to an emphasis on survival in a world of competing nation states; changing relations between the national government, regional interests and legal society; economic (especially agricultural) and ecological change; peasant protest and collective violence and the effects of imperialism on state-making, regional disparities and existing conflicts in Chinese society.

His second set of projects develop similar themes on a much larger scale, attempting to understand the origins of a world economy as the outcome of mutual influences among regions, rather than the simple imposition by a more "advanced" Europe on the rest of the world. A first volume on this subject, which analyzes early industrialization in the context of ecological constraints shared by most of the world's most densely populated and commercially sophisticated regions and the unique exit from those problems given to Europe by its privileged access to the New World as by any unique and internally generated advantages. The book combines a comparative economic and ecological history, which attempts to assess the importance for those trajectories of social, political and cultural difference among world regions, with an attempt to re-think the importance (particularly for ecology) of connections among these regions.

Selected publications

  • The Making of a Hinterland: State, Society and Economy in Inland North China, 1853–1937. University of California Press, 1993
  • The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present. M. E. Sharpe, 1999 (with Steven Topik)
  • The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton University Press, 2000

Awards and honors

  • 2011-12 Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton
  • 2001 John K. Fairbank Prize for best book in East Asian history
  • 2001 World History Association Book Prize
  • 1997 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
  • 1994 John King Fairbank Prize for best book in East Asian history

In July 2017, Pomeranz was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (FBA), the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.[4]


  1. ^ "Kenneth Pomeranz, leading expert on China, appointed University Professor of History". April 19, 2012.
  2. ^ []
  3. ^ []
  4. ^ "Elections to the British Academy celebrate the diversity of UK research". British Academy. 2 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.

External links