Centre for World Environmental History

Prof Mark Elvin

Professor Mark Elvin is a senior research associate of the centre. He is professor emeritus at the division of Asian and Pacific History, School of Asian and Pacific Studies, Australian National University. He is a leading environmental historian of China with several publications to his credit. He divides his time between U.K. and Australia.

Publications (since 2001)

Books (as author)

2004. The Retreat of the Elephants. An Environmental History of China.(Yale University Press). Awarded the Stanislas Julien Prize of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 2005.

Articles and Chapters

• 2002. "The Impact of Clearance and Irrigation on the Environment in the Lake Erhai Catchment from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century." With D. Crook, Shen Ji, R. Jones, and J. Dearing. East Asian History 23 (June 2002).
• 2002. "Braudel and China." In J. Marino, ed., History and the Social Sciences in Braudel's MEDITERRANEAN (Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, Sixteenth Century Journal), Truman State University Press.
• 2002. "Geren.de yunqi - weishenma qiandai Zhonggyo keneng meiyou fazhan gailü sixiang? [Personal Luck: why premodern China - probably - did not develop probabilistic thinking]", in Liu Dun and Wang Yangzong, eds., Zhongguo kexue yu kexue geming [Science and Scientific Revolutions in China]. Liaoning Jiaoyu Chubanshe: Shengyang.
• 2004. "Different transitions: The year 1000 in China's environmental history". In James Heitzman and Wolfgang Schenkluhn, ed., The World in the Year 1000. Lanham, New York, and Oxford: University Press of America.
• 2004. "Some Reflections on the Use of 'Styles of Scientific Thinking' to Disaggregate and Sharpen Comparisons Between China and Europe from Song to mid-Qing Times (960 - 1850 CE). History of Technology, vol. 25, 2004. Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
• 2004. "Vale atque ave." Introduction to the final volume of Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China. 7.II. General Conclusions and Reflections. Ed. K. G. Robinson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• 2004. "18 shiji-mo zhi 19 shiji-chu Wuyuanxian-de hunnei jieyu." With M. James and J. Fox. In Zhang Guogang, ed., Jiating-shi yanjiu-de xin shiye. Beijing: Sanlian. [The limitation of births during marriage in Wuyuan county from the later 18th century to the beginning of the 19th.]
• 2005. "Social rights to the use of nature." Environmental History 10.iv (Oct).

Delayed: "Explaining Success: The Transfer of Modern Engineering Technology to Shanghai before 1937." In a volume on Shanghai edited by C. K. Lai (University of Queensland).

From 2007

"Economic Pressures on the Environment in China during the 18th Century seen from a Contemporary European Perspective: Insights from the Jesuit Mémoires." In Yoshinobu Shiba, ed., The 80-Year History of the Toyo Bunko. Toyo Bunko: Tokyo, 2007. Vol 2, pp. 13-17.

J. A. Dearing, R. R. Jones, J. Shen, X. Yang, J. D. Boyle, G. C. Foster, F. S. Crook, M. D. Elvin, "Using multiple archives to understand past and present climate-human-environment interactions: the lake Erhai catchment, Yunnan Province, China." In Journal of Paleolimnology (2008) 40:3-31.


With Dr Josephine Fox:

"Local Demographic Variations in the Lower Yangzi Valley during Mid-Qing Times."  In Thomas Hirzel and Nanny Kim, eds., Monies, Markets, and Finance in China and East Asia. Lit Verlag: Berlin, 2008. Pp. 333-378.


"Marriages, Births, and Deaths in the Lower Yangzi Valley during the Later Eighteenth Century." In Clara Wing-chung Ho, ed., Windows on the Chinese World. Lexington Books [Rowman and Littlefield]: Lanham MD, 2009. Pp. 67-111.

Accompanied by a website containing the quantified data and basic computer programs (in PERL) in free downloadable form: http://gis.sinica.edu.tw/QingDemography

"The Historian as Haruspex." [A review-article of Giovanni Arrighi, Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso: London and New York, 2007).] New Left Review II 52 (Jul-Aug) 2008. Pp. 83-109.

"Why Intensify? The Outline of a Theory of the Institutional Causes Driving Long-Term Changes in Chinese Farming and the Consequent Modifications to the Environment." In Sverker Sörlin and Paul Warde, eds. Nature's End. History and Environment. Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2009.

"Nature, Technology and Organization in Late-Imperial China." In Bernd Herrmann and Christine Dahlke, eds. Elements-Continents. Approaches to Determinants of Environmental History and their Reifications. Nova Acta Leopoldina, Neue Folge, Bd. 98, No. 360, 2009.  Pp. 143-158.

"The Environmental Impasse in Late Imperial China." In Brantly Womack, ed., China's Rise in Historical Perspective. Rowman and Littlefield: Lanham MD, 2010. Pp. 151-169.

Forthcoming in August 2010:

"Overview,"  pp. 1-55; "Introductions," pp. 56-101; and "Personal Luck: Why Premodern China-probably-did not Develop Probabilistic Thinking," pp. 400-468.  In Hans-Ulrich Vogel and Günter Dux, eds. with an Overview and Introductions by Mark Elvin [on title page], Concepts of Nature: A Chinese-European Cross-Cultural Perspective. Brill: Leiden, 2010.