Linda Walton

Date of Award

Summer 10-3-2013

Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Interdisciplinary Studies


Interdisciplinary Studies

Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 250 pages)


Irrigation farming -- Environmental aspects -- China -- Daba Mountains -- 20th century, Irrigation farming -- Environmental aspects -- China -- Daba Mountains -- 21st century, Rice farmers -- China -- Daba Mountains, Climatic changes -- China -- Daba Mountains, Irrigation farming -- Government policy -- China -- Daba Mountains, Migration, Internal -- Social aspects -- China -- Daba Mountains




This thesis presents the results of research in a small village located in the mountains of Sichuan Province in southwestern China. The thesis argues that traditional irrigation practices vital to paddy-rice production in the village have been stressed by local weather events. It also argues that local villagers have not responded effectively to such changes, and that failure to adjust has contributed to social stress observed at the site.

During the earlier years of the study period (1945 to 2012), improvements were made in local irrigation, which seem to have helped farmers continue with traditional subsistence wet-rice farming in a fragile mountain environment. However, in later years of the period village social order showed two significant signs of collapse: first, because of emigration, fewer people were left to farm higher mountain levels so farm land was being abandoned; second, social crowding in lower level riverside farming areas, partly the result of highland emigration, began reducing the amount of land being farmed there. While reducing intensive cropping of highland farming areas can result in spontaneous recovery of natural resources such as soil and water, crowding in lower areas can contribute to deterioration of natural resources in the lower village farmland. Crowding can, in addition, have a bearing on community health problems.

The thesis results are of value to researchers concerned with the adaptive behavior of local farming communities trying to maintain their traditional irrigation-dependent way of life in a fragile mountain environment while experiencing the effects of changeable weather. Thesis results are of additional value to those who study the impact on society of earth-warming, especially if variable local weather in the Dabashan is shown to be related to global climate change.


This thesis is only available to students, faculty and staff at PSU.

Persistent Identifier

Available for download on Tuesday, October 03, 2023