An Introduction to and Revisionist Critique of the Case (案) as Historical Source and Administrative Artefact in Local Jurisdictions of the Late Empire

This talk will review some of the many ways in which the opening of county-level Qing magistrate archives revolutionized scholarship from the 1990s forward. It will then introduce a new perspective on the materials that have been at the center of this historiographical revision and propose yet another revisionist approach to them. Classic institutional history and social history approaches to local administration—the inherited traditions of the current age—are combined with a critical textual-material approach in this presentation to produce a process-centered understanding of the county magistracy and its functions.

Maura Dykstra is an Assistant Professor of History at Caltech.