Book Talk: The Ideological Foundations of the Qing Fiscal State

Apr 12, 2022, 1:30 pm3:00 pm
Dickinson Hall 211
  • East Asian Studies Program
  • History Department
Event Description

PU and IAS Faculty and Students only. This is an in-person event. Please RSVP to

How states develop the capacity to tax is a question of fundamental importance to political science, legal theory, economics, sociology, and history. Increasingly, scholars believe that China's relative economic decline in the 18th and 19th centuries was related to its weak fiscal institutions and limited revenue. This book argues that this fiscal weakness was fundamentally ideological in nature. Belief systems created through a confluence of traditional political ethics and the trauma of dynastic change imposed unusually deep and powerful constraints on fiscal policymaking and institutions throughout the final 250 years of China's imperial history. Through the Qing example, this book combs through several interaction dynamics between state institutions and ideologies. The latter shapes the former, but the former can also significantly reinforce the political durability of the latter. In addition to its historical analysis of ideological politics, this book makes a major contribution to the longstanding debate on Sino-European divergence.