Wensheng Wang

Wensheng Wang

Associate Professor
Ming-Qing China

Office: Sakamaki B204
Phone: (808) 956-4233
Email: wensheng@hawaii.edu

BA, MA Wuhan University, 1998, 2001; MA, PhD University of California, Irvine, 2006, 2008




Professor Wang is a historian of late imperial China, specializing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His research interests include empire building, cultural politics, intellectual change, social movements, popular religion, maritime interactions, and foreign relations. He is the author of White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire (Harvard University Press, January 2014). Professor Wang has been conducting research for a second book on the transformative power of Confucian ideology and its interactions with the Qing state before the Opium War. More specifically, it explores the cultural politics enacted by different intellectual networks and official groups as they coped with a dramatic combination of crises from the 1780s to the 1830s. With a strong interest in world history, Professor Wang aims to place the China-centered history in a broader context, both through making comparisons and through examining the empire’s connections with other parts of the world.

Courses Taught

Civilizations of Asia; East Asian Civilizations; Local History of Late Imperial China; China in World History; The Chinese Revolution; Graduate Seminar on Late Imperial China

Representative Publications


White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, January 2014


  • “Towards an Integrated Understanding of Critical Upheavals: From Crisis, to Contentious Politics, to All-encompassing Contentious Crisis,” Journal of Historical Sociology, 30 (2017): 746-767
  • “The Mid-Qing Construction of the South China Sea,” World History Connected, 14 (2017)
  • “Parallels and Connections: Consumption, Environment, and State Formation at Both Ends of Eurasia, 1500-1900AD,” World History Studies 2 (2015): 102-122.
  • “Prosperity and Its Discontents: Contextualizing the Social Protest during the late Qianlong Reign,” Frontier of History in China 6 (2011): 347-369.
  • “Social Crises and Political Reform during the Jiaqing Reign of Qing China, 1796-1810s,” in From Early Tang Court Debates to China’s Peaceful Rise, ed. Friederike Assandri and Dora Martins. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009, pp.33-52.
  • “Political Culture 1800-1900,” in Encyclopedia of Modern China, ed. David Pong. Farmington Hills: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009, pp.146-148.

Book Reviews

  • After The Prosperous Age: State and Elites in Early Nineteenth-century Suzhou
    by Seunghyun Han, Journal of Chinese Studies 1 (2017): 390-392
  • Conflict and Commerce in Maritime East Asia: The Zheng Family and the Shaping of the Modern World, c.1620-1720
    by Xing Hang, Ming Studies 75(2017): 52-54
  • Asia Inside Out: Changing Times.
    eds. by Eric Tagliacozzo, Helen F. Siu, and Peter C. Purdue, The Historian 79(2017): 366-368
  • The Qing Opening to the Ocean: Chinese Maritime Policies, 1684-1757
    by Gang Zhao, Bulletin of the Pacific Circle 32(2014): 14-16
  • China’s Last Empire: the Great Qing
    by William Rowe, The China Journal 71 (2014): 285-288
  • Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty
    by Ho-Fung Hung, The China Journal 68 (2012): 245-247
  • The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties
    by Timothy Brook, Journal of World History 23 (2012): 170-174
  • The Art of Doing Good: Charity in Late Ming China
    by Joanna Handlin Smith, China Review International 16 (2009): 266-270

Translated Works

  • Kenneth Pomeranz, “The Economics of Respectability: Rural Incomes, Instability and Gender Norms in Late Imperial China,” Research on Women in Modern Chinese History 14 (2006): 205-241.

Fellowships, Research Grants and Awards

  • 2007 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/ACLS Early Career Fellowships)
  • 2005 Pacific Rim Research Program Grant, University of California President Office
  • 2002 Chancellor’s Fellowship, University of California, Irvine

White Lotus Rebels