HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS
Cover: Opium and the Limits of Empire in HARDCOVER

Harvard East Asian Monographs 241

Opium and the Limits of Empire

Drug Prohibition in the Chinese Interior, 1729–1850

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$50.00 • £40.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674016491

Publication Date: 04/30/2005

Short

7 figures

Harvard University Asia Center > Harvard East Asian Monographs

World, subsidiary rights restricted

The British opium trade along China’s seacoast has come to symbolize China’s century-long descent into political and social chaos. In the standard historical narrative, opium is the primary medium through which China encountered the economic, social, and political institutions of the West. Opium, however, was not a Sino–British problem confined to southeastern China. It was, rather, an empire-wide crisis, and its spread among an ethnically diverse populace created regionally and culturally distinct problems of control for the Qing state.

This book examines the crisis from the perspective of Qing prohibition efforts. The author argues that opium prohibition, and not the opium wars, was genuinely imperial in scale and is hence much more representative of the actual drug problem faced by Qing administrators. The study of prohibition also permits a more comprehensive and accurate observation of the economics and criminology of opium. The Qing drug traffic involved the domestic production, distribution, and consumption of opium. A balanced examination of the opium market and state anti-drug policy in terms of prohibition reveals the importance of the empire’s landlocked western frontier regions, which were the domestic production centers, in what has previously been considered an essentially coastal problem.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket, Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter, by Luke Fernandez and Susan J. Matt, from Harvard University Press

Technology, Biology, Chronology

Fears and anxieties about the latest technologies are nothing new, say Luke Fernandez and Susan J. Matt, authors of Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter. But neither is the fact that they often provide new ways for us to connect and socialize. Mark Twain is rumored to have said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Of late, much press has been spent on uncovering those rhymes, focusing on the similarities between the current epidemic and past ones. These stories underscore the lesson that progress hasn't allowed us to escape the suffering of earlier