Amsterdam University Press
Making the Palace Machine Work
Making the Palace Machine Work
Mobilizing People, Objects, and Nature in the Qing Empire
€ 109,00
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
Asian Studies

Making the Palace Machine Work

Mobilizing People, Objects, and Nature in the Qing Empire

This volume brings the studies of institutions, labour, and material cultures to bear on the history of science and technology by tracing the workings of the Imperial Household Department (Neiwufu) in the Qing court and empire. An enormous apparatus that employed 22,000 men and women at its heyday, the Department operated a "machine" with myriad moving parts. The first part of the book portrays the people who kept it running, from technical experts to menial servants, and scrutinises the paper trails they left behind. Part two uncovers the working principles of the machine by following the production chains of some of its most splendid products: gilded statues, jade, porcelain, and textiles. Part three tackles the most complex task of all, managing living organisms in nature, including lotus plants grown in imperial ponds in Beijing, fresh medicines sourced from disparate regions, and tribute elephants from Southeast Asia.
€ 109,00
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Martina Siebert

Martina Siebert works as area specialist for China at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and as independent scholar. She researches and publishes on Chinese exploration into nature and history of technology with a focus on the styles and agendas of presenting and organizing that knowledge in writing.

Kai Jun Chen

Kaijun Chen is Assistant Professor at Brown University. He is specialized in the history of imperial institution, handicraft technology, and material culture studies. His monograph in progress examines the technocratic culture in the Imperial Ceramic Industry of the Qing dynasty. His other scholarly publications investigate the production of technological knowledge in the global circulation, collection, and replication of luxury artifacts, especially porcelains.

Dorothy Ko

A native of Hong Kong, Dorothy Ko is Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is a cultural historian of early modern China whose research focuses on gender, technology, and material culture. Her recent book, The Social Life of Inkstones: Artisans and Scholars in Early Qing China (Washington, 2017) is a finalist of the Morey Prize of the College Art Association. An earlier book, Cinderella's Sisters: A Revisionist History of Footbinding (California, 2005) won the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize of the American Historical Association.