Cover Page

Modern China. Map by Lex Berman.


This series provides sophisticated and authoritative overviews of the scholarship that has shaped our current understanding of the past. Defined by theme, period and/or region, each volume comprises between twenty‐five and forty concise essays written by individual scholars within their area of specialization. The aim of each contribution is to synthesize the current state of scholarship from a variety of historical perspectives and to provide a statement on where the field is heading. The essays are written in a clear, provocative, and lively manner, designed for an international audience of scholars, students, and general readers.


A Companion to Roman Britain
Edited by Malcolm Todd

A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages
Edited by S. H. Rigby

A Companion to Tudor Britain
Edited by Robert Tittler and Norman Jones

A Companion to Stuart Britain
Edited by Barry Coward

A Companion to Eighteenth‐Century Britain
Edited by H. T. Dickinson

A Companion to Nineteenth‐Century Britain
Edited by Chris Williams

A Companion to Early Twentieth‐Century Britain
Edited by Chris Wrigley

A Companion to Contemporary Britain
Edited by Paul Addison and Harriet Jones

A Companion to the Early Middle Ages: Britain and Ireland c.500‐c.1100
Edited by Pauline Stafford


A Companion to Europe 1900–1945
Edited by Gordon Martel

A Companion to Eighteenth‐Century Europe
Edited by Peter H. Wilson

A Companion to Nineteenth‐Century Europe
Edited by Stefan Berger

A Companion to the Worlds of the Renaissance
Edited by Guido Ruggiero

A Companion to the Reformation World
Edited by R. Po‐chia Hsia

A Companion to Europe Since 1945
Edited by Klaus Larres

A Companion to the Medieval World
Edited by Carol Lansing and Edward D. English

A Companion to the French Revolution
Edited by Peter McPhee

A Companion to Mediterranean History
Edited by Peregrine Horden and Sharon Kinoshita


A Companion to Western Historical Thought
Edited by Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza

A Companion to Gender History
Edited by Teresa A. Meade and Merry E. Wiesner‐Hanks

A Companion to the History of the Middle East
Edited by Youssef M. Choueiri

A Companion to Japanese History
Edited by William M. Tsutsui

A Companion to International History 1900–2001
Edited by Gordon Martel

A Companion to Latin American History
Edited by Thomas Holloway ]take back[

A Companion to Russian History
Edited by Abbott Gleason

A Companion to World War I
Edited by John Horne

A Companion to Mexican History and Culture
Edited by William H. Beezley

A Companion to World History
Edited by Douglas Northrop

A Companion to Global Environmental History
Edited by J. R. McNeill and Erin Stewart Mauldin

A Companion to World War II
Edited by Thomas W. Zeiler, with Daniel M. DuBois

A Companion to Chinese History
Edited by Michael Szonyi


Edited by

Michael Szonyi











Notes on Contributors

William P. Alford is the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, and Director of the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. He is the author of To Steal a Book Is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization (1995), editor of Raising the Bar: The Emerging Legal Profession in East Asia (2007), and co‐editor of A Study of Legal Mechanisms to Protect Persons with Disabilities (2008, in Chinese) and Prospects for the Professions in China (2011). He also chairs the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and has been an honorary faculty member of several Chinese universities.

Geremie R. Barmé is an independent historian, cultural critic, filmmaker, translator and web‐journal editor who has worked on Chinese cultural and intellectual history from the early modern period (1600s) to the present. He founded the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW) at the Australian National University in 2010 and his latest book, with Lois Conner, is Beijing: Contemporary and Imperial (2014).

Michal Biran is a historian of Inner Asia and a member of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities. She is the Max and Sophie Mydans Foundation Professor in the Humanities and the director of The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she also leads the ERC‐funded project “Mobility, Empire and Cross‐Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia.”

Gregory Blue is an Emeritus Professor in the History Department of the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where from 1990 to 2014 he taught world history, comparative history, and historiography. His primary field of research is on the histories of Sino‐western relations, Chinese studies, and western interpretations of Chinese society and history. His publications include Science and Technology in the Transformation of the World (1982, with A. Abdel‐Malek and M. Pecujlic), Death by a Thousand Cuts (2008, with T. Brook and J. Bourgon), and Zheng He’s Maritime Voyages (1405–1433) and China’s Relations with the Indian Ocean World: A Multilingual Bibliography (2014, with Y. Liu and Z. Chen).

Timothy Cheek is Professor and Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research, Institute of Asian Research and Department of History, University of British Columbia. His research, teaching and translating focus on the recent history of China, especially the role of Chinese intellectuals in the twentieth century and the history of the Chinese Communist Party. His books include The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History (2015), A Critical Introduction to Mao (2010), Living with Reform: China Since 1989 (2006), Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions (2002), and Propaganda and Culture in Mao’s China (1997).

Janet Y. Chen is Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University. She received her BA from Williams College (1994) and PhD from Yale University (2005). She is the author of Guilty of Indigence: The Urban Poor in China, 1900–1953 (2012).

May‐bo Ching is a Professor of the Department of Chinese and History, City University of Hong Kong, the “Distinguished Professor of the Pearl River Scholars” of Guangdong province, PRC, and a Research Fellow at the Centre of Historical Anthropology, Sun Yat‐sen University. For the past eighteen years she has been working at Sun Yat‐sen University, Guangzhou. Her major research area is the social and cultural history of modern China, focusing in particular on South China and its connection with other parts of the world. She is the author of Regional Culture and National Identity: the evolution of the idea of “Guangdong Culture” since the late Qing (in Chinese, 2006).

Paul A. Cohen is Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and History Emeritus, Wellesley College, and a long‐time associate of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University. His books include Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past and the award‐winning History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. His most recent book is History and Popular Memory: The Power of Story in Moments of Crisis (2014).

R. Kent Guy is Professor Emeritus of History and East Asian Studies at the University of Washington. His works include The Emperor’s Four Treasuries: Scholars and the State in the Late Ch’ien‐lung Era (1987) and Qing Governors and Their Provinces: The Evolution of Territorial Administration in China, 1644–1796 (2010).

Charles Holcombe is Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on China and East Asia, focusing especially on the post‐Han through mid‐Tang period.

Weijing Lu is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China (2008) and guest editor of a special issue on China for the Journal of the History of Sexuality (May 2013). Her current research focuses on family and marital practices in China from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.

Thomas S. Mullaney is Associate Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University. He is the author of Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (2011) and principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority (2012).

Carla Nappi is Associate Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in Early Modern Studies at the University of British Columbia. Her first book was The Monkey and the Inkpot: Natural History and its Transformations in Early Modern China (2009). She is currently working on the histories of translation and embodiment in Ming and Qing China from the fifteenth through nineteenth centuries.

Peter C. Perdue is Professor of History at Yale University. He has taught courses on East Asian history and civilization, Chinese social and economic history, the Silk Road, and historical methodology. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His first book, Exhausting the Earth: State and Peasant in Hunan, 1500–1850 A.D. (1987), examined long‐term agricultural change in one Chinese province. His second book, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (2005), discussed environmental change, ethnicity, long‐term economic change and military conquest in an integrated account of the Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian contention over Siberia and Central Eurasia during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He is a coeditor of two books on empires, Imperial Formations (2007) and Shared Histories of Modernity (2008), and a co‐author of Global Connections, a world history textbook (2015) and Asia Inside Out, three volumes on inter‐Asian connections (2015). His current research focuses on Chinese frontiers, Chinese environmental history, and the history of tea.

Michael Puett is the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History at Harvard University. He is the author of The Ambivalence of Creation: Debates Concerning Innovation and Artifice in Early China (2001) and To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self‐Divinization in Early China (2002), as well as the co‐author, with Adam Seligman, Robert Weller, and Bennett Simon, of Ritual and Its Consequences: An Essay on the Limits of Sincerity (2008).

Shelley Rigger is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics at Davidson College. She is the author of three books about Taiwan, including Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse (2011).

Graham Sanders (PhD, Harvard University) is Associate Professor of Classical Chinese Literature in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. His books include Words Well Put: Visions of Poetic Competence in the Chinese Tradition (2006), and a translation of Shen Fu’s (b. 1763) Six Records of a Life Adrift (2011). He is translating two collections of Tang poetry anecdotes for De Gruyter’s Library of Chinese Humanities.

Eric T. Schluessel is Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at the University of Montana. He is the author of “Muslims at the Yamen Gate: Translating Justice in Late‐Qing Xinjiang” (2016).

Shiba Yoshinobu is the Executive Librarian, Toyo Bunko. He is a Member of the Japan Academy, and author of Commerce and Society in Sung China, translated by Mark Elvin (1970), as well as other books on Chinese economic history.

S.A. (Steve) Smith is author of A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920–27 (2000), Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895–1927 (2002), and Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (2008). He is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.

Michael Szonyi is Professor of Chinese History and Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. A specialist in Ming social history, his books include Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China (2002), Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Frontline (2008; Chinese edition 2016), and the forthcoming Everyday Politics in Late Imperial China: Soldiers and their Families in the Ming Dynasty.

Nicolas Tackett is Associate Professor in the History Department at the University of California, Berkeley. His first book, The Destruction of the Medieval Chinese Aristocracy (2014), explores how a circumscribed network of families maintained power for centuries only to disappear completely at the end of the ninth century. He has just completed a second book examining how unusual social, political, and geopolitical factors during the eleventh century spurred new ideas about China’s place in the world.

Barend J. ter Haar teaches at the University of Oxford, after posts at the Universities of Leiden and Heidelberg. He has written on various topics, ranging from violence and local identity to lay Buddhism, new religions, and local cults. His monograph Practicing Scripture: A Lay Buddhist Movement in Late Imperial China recently appeared with the University of Hawaii Press (2014). His book manuscript on the divine career of Guan Yu has been accepted by Oxford University Press. His next book projects are the social history of the (non‐) persecution of witchcraft and an English language history of imperial China.

Richard von Glahn is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he teaches Chinese and world history. His primary field of research is the economic history of premodern China, mainly focused on the period 1000–1700. In addition to three monographs on Chinese history, several edited volumes, and a co‐authored textbook of world history, his most recent book is The Economic History of China from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century (2016).

David Der‐wei Wang is Edward C. Henderson Professor in Chinese Literature and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. His specialties are Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature, Sinophone Studies, Late Qing fiction and drama, and Comparative Literary Theory. His recent works include The Lyrical in Epic Time: Modern Chinese Intellectuals and Artists through the 1949 Crisis (2015) and The Harvard New Literary History of Modern China (editor, 2017).

Endymion Wilkinson is a scholar‐diplomat who during 30 years of service in Tokyo, Brussels, Bangkok, and Beijing continued to publish on Chinese and Japanese history (Studies in Chinese Price History (1980), Japan Versus the West (1990), Chinese History: A Manual (1998). His last post was European Union Ambassador to China and Mongolia (1994–2001)). The third edition of his Chinese History: A New Manual was awarded the Stanislas Julien Prize for 2014. The fourth edition appeared in 2015.

John E. Wills, Jr. is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Southern California. He took his PhD at Harvard under the direction of John K. Fairbank and Lien‐sheng Yang. His research has focused on China’s foreign relations from 1500 to 1800, drawing on European‐language archives and library resources in Europe, Asia and the United States and Chinese‐language archives and special collections in Beijing, Taipei, Hanoi, Europe, and the United States.

Henry S.N. Yu is an Associate Professor of History, and the Principal of St. John’s College, at the University of British Columbia. Professor Yu received his BA in Honours History from UBC in 1989 and an MA in 1992 and PhD in History from Princeton University in 1995. After teaching history and Asian American studies at UCLA for a decade, Yu returned in 2003 to UBC to build new programs focused on migrations between North America, Asia, and the Pacific. Since 2007, he has been the Director of INSTRCC (the Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies), exploring the use of multimedia and digital tools in research and public education, which is now part of the new Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program at UBC launched in 2014. He is completing several book projects: “How Tiger Woods Lost His Stripes” on the fascination with interracial sex and marriage, a history of “Pacific Canada,” and the “Cantonese Pacific” in the making of the modern world.

Harriet Zurndorfer is affiliated with the Leiden Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University, where she has worked since 1978. Her major publications include Change and Continuity in Chinese Local History: The Development of Hui‐chou Prefecture 800 to 1800 (1989), and China Bibliography: A Research Guide to Reference Works about China Past & Present (1995). She is also the founder and editor of the journal Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China, published since 1999.


The editor acknowledges with thanks the Chiang Ching‐kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange for generously supporting a workshop that allowed the contributing authors to discuss one another’s work, greatly strengthening the cohesiveness of the volume as a whole. Additional support was provided by several units at Harvard: the Asia Center; the Harvard Yenching Institute; the Provostial Fund for the Arts and Humanities; the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies; the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. I thank all of these sponsors, as well as Xiaosu Sun who provided gracious and expert logistical support and Christopher Olsen for their help with the workshop. I am also grateful to Joanna Handlin‐Smith, who attended the workshop and provided many helpful comments, and to Bruce Tindall, who was an outstanding and diligent copy editor and indexer, and whose work has much improved the book. I also thank Eldo Barhuizen and Shyamala Venkateswaran for their thorough work in preparing the text for publication.