White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: New Perspectives on Social Crises, Political Dynamics, and Cultural Change in the Qing Empire, 1796-1810


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This historical study examines the societal, imperial, bureaucratic, and intellectual responses to the conjunction of two crises in Qing China: the White Lotus rebellion (1796-1805) and South China piracy (1790s-1810). By exploring the mediated constructions placed upon both events, this project highlights a path-shaping conjuncture in the interlocking structural transformation of Qing state and culture as well as the shifting power configuration encompassing the Sino-centric tributary world during the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820). This dissertation provides a major reinterpretation of this pivotal yet most neglected period and explores the endogenous dynamism in the Qing Empire before the full rise of Western assault in the mid-nineteenth century.