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The Social Life of Opium in China

The Social Life of Opium in China


  • Date Published: September 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521846080

£ 72.00

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About the Authors
  • In a remarkable and broad-ranging narrative, Yangwen Zheng's book explores the history of opium consumption in China from 1483 to the late twentieth century. The story begins in the mid-Ming dynasty, when opium was sent as a gift by vassal states and used as an aphrodisiac in court. Over time, the Chinese people from different classes and regions began to use it for recreational purposes, so beginning a complex culture of opium consumption. The book traces this transformation over a period of five hundred years, asking who introduced opium to China, how it spread across all sections of society, embraced by rich and poor alike as a culture and an institution. The book, which is accompanied by a fascinating collection of illustrations, will appeal to students and scholars of history, anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, and all those with an interest in China.

    • This is the first book to explore the social and cultural impact of opium in China
    • Challenges the common opinion that the Chinese people were passive victims of opium
    • This richly-illustrated study will prove invaluable reading for students in history, anthropology and sociology, and all those with an interest in China
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A forthcoming book by Yangwen Zheng, The Social Life of Opium (Cambridge University Press) makes a perfect complement to this one, as it concentrates much more on the 1500-1911 period …'. History Today

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2005
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521846080
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus. 2 maps 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'The art of alchemists, sex and court ladies'
    2. As the Empire changed hands
    3. 'The age of calicos and tea and opium'
    4. 'A hobby among the high and the low and the officialdom'
    5. Taste-making and trend-setting
    6. The political redefinition of opium consumption
    7. Outward and downward 'liquidation'
    8. 'The volume of smoke and powder'
    9. 'The unofficial history of the poppy'
    10. The opiate of the people
    11. The road to St. Louis
    12. 'Shanghai vice'.

  • Author

    Zheng Yangwen, National University of Singapore
    Zheng Yangwen is a Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore. She received her PhD from Cambridge University in 2001.

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