The Social Life of Opium in China

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Sep 8, 2005 - History - 241 pages
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.
 

Contents

Contents Introduction 1 The art of alchemists sex and court
1
As the Empire changed hands
2
The age of calicoe and tea and opium
3
The art of alchemists sex and court ladies
10
As the empire changed hands
25
The age of calicoes and tea and opium
41
A hobby among the high and the low
56
the officialdom
66
Outward and downward liquidation
101
The volume of smoke and powder
116
The unofficial history of the poppy
131
Opiate of the people
146
The road to St Louis
164
Shanghai vice
186
Shangai vice Conclusion
203
Glossary
223

Tastemaking and trendsetting
71
The political redefinition of opium consumption
78
The political redefinition of opium consumption
87

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About the author (2005)

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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