Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University Of Mississippi

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Northwestern University
Treachery on the Coast: Smuggling and Maritime Administration in Fujian, 1795-1937

In my dissertation, I will use commercial and legal records to explore the way successive generations of opium smugglers in China’s southeastern province of Fujian developed and maintained a highly successful but illegal narcotics trade. Through a close examination of the inter-connections between lineage units, smuggling syndicates and the civil and military administrations along the coast, I look to uncover what happened in the ports and villages of southeast China during the meteoric rise of the opium trade, and how the residents of Fujian’s coastal hinterland and busy port cities – Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Fuzhou – managed this (mostly) informal economy. During the late Qing, Fujian was unique for the size and power of lineage units in local society, the importance of military administration within local government, and the unusual (in the Chinese context) appointment of locals to positions of authority within the military and maritime customs administration. I propose to examine how these and other factors contributed to the flourishing of a smuggling economy, and how the history of smuggling conditioned modern statebuilding along the Fujian coast during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. My dissertation will offer a detailed analysis of the successes and failures of smugglers and anti-smuggling administrations over a period of nearly one hundred and fifty years: from the period before the first opium war, through the treaty port era of the late nineteenth century, and into the early twentieth century and the advent of Japanese expansion into the region. In its focus on clandestine commercial networks that extended across national boundaries, my research engages with and contributes to the growing body of scholarship on transnational history, informal economies, law and empire, and globalization. Additionally, my work will contribute to the historiography of late imperial and republican China, as well as that of British and Japanese imperialism in Asia