The reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820 CE) has long occupied an awkward position in studies of China's last dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911 CE). Conveniently marking a watershed between the prosperous eighteenth century and the tragic post-Opium War era, this quarter century has nevertheless been glossed over as an unremarkable interlude separating two well-studied epochs of great transformation. White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates presents a major reassessment of this misunderstood period by examining how the emperors, bureaucrats, and foreigners responded to the two crises that shaped the transition from the Qianlong to the Jiaqing reign.
Wensheng Wang argues that the dramatic combination of internal uprising and transnational piracy, rather than being a hallmark of inexorable dynastic decline, propelled the Manchu court to reorganize itself through a series of modifications in policymaking and bureaucratic structure. The resulting Jiaqing reforms initiated a process of state retreat that pulled the Qing Empire out of a cycle of aggressive overextension and resistance, and back onto a more sustainable track of development. Although this pragmatic striving for political sustainability was unable to save the dynasty from ultimate collapse, it represented a durable and constructive approach to the compounding problems facing the late Qing regime and helped sustain it for another century. As one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Jiaqing reign, White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates
provides a fresh understanding of this significant turning point in China's long imperial history.
About the Author
Ye Wang, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Wang is a teacher educator preparing teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing students as well as a researcher. Dr. Wang's primary research interest is the language and literacy development of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Her other research and scholarly interests include multiple literacies, technology and literacy instruction, inclusive education, research methodology, and early childhood education. She has numerous scholarly publications including books, chapters and peer-reviewed academic journal articles. Dr. Wang has been active as guest reviewer for several journals and has been guest editor of a special issue for the American Annals of the Deaf.