Emeritus Professor Helen Dunstan

MA Oxf PhD Camb MCoun (ACU), FAHA
Professor of Chinese Studies

A18 - Brennan MacCallum Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 5516
Fax +61 2 9351 3918

Website Phonebook Entry

Biographical details

I am a historian of premodern China, with a primary focus on economic thought and economic policy in the first half of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). I am particularly interested in the processes through which the central government made economic-policy decisions, and in the interplay between motives of very different kinds in such decision-making. While much of my research to date has focused on state intervention in the grain trade, my interests have now shifted to (1) provincial finance in the Qianlong reign; and (2) problems of interpretation in the sociocultural history of late-imperial and modern China.

Other topics on which I have worked include the southwest-Shanxi salt industry, particularly in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Chinese environmental history, post-1980 Chinese reportage, and eighteenth-century autobiographical texts. I enjoy teaching East Asian gender history, and have always been fascinated by the anthropological study of Chinese society.

Research interests

  • Economic thought and policy in late imperial China
  • Provincial finance in eighteenth-century China
  • Corpse-disposal in eighteenth-century Jiangnan
  • The history of the premodern Chinese prisoner

Teaching and supervision

Coursework Teaching

  • Twentieth-century China
  • East Asian gender history (China, Japan, Korea)
  • The political, economic and environmental history of China from the Song dynasty to the Qing
  • Chinese sociocultural history (all periods)

Units of study offered since 2010:

  • HSTY1090: History of Chinese Culture
  • HSTY2623: China’s Traumas, 1937-1971
  • HSTY2640: Twentieth-Century China
  • HSTY2673: Lived Experience in Modern China
  • HSTY2683: Violence in Chinese History
  • HSTY2685: Sexuality and Power in East Asian History
  • Beyond Orientalism (Honours seminar)
  • Modern Chinese History (Honours seminar)

Current projects

Making Sense of the Accounts: Provincial Finance in Mid-Qing China

Selected grants

2007

  • State Finance and the Enigma of Decline in High Confucian China; Dunstan H; Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation/Research Grant.

2006

  • University of Sydney - Near Miss Scheme; Dunstan H; University of Sydney (CHASS)/Bridging Support.

2001

  • The anatomy of political decline in late imperial China; Dunstan H; DVC Research/Research and Development Scheme: Research and Development (R&D).

Selected publications

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Books

  • Dunstan, H. (2006). State or Merchant? Political Economy and Political Process in 1740s China. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Asia Center.

Book Chapters

  • Dunstan, H. (2007). Shilun liuyang zisong zhidu zai Qianlong chao de yishi feichu (On the Qianglong-period suspension of the system of reception centers and assisted passage home for famine refugees). In Li, Wenhua and Xia, Mingfang (Eds.), Tian you xiongnian: Qingdai zaihuang yu Zhonguo shehui (Heaven sends some bad years: natural disasters and Chinese society during the Qing dynasty), (pp. 112-145). Beijing, China: Sanlian Shudian, Beijing.
  • Dunstan, H. (2004). Premodern Chinese Political Thought. In Gerald F. Gaus and Chandran Kukathas (Eds.), Handbook of Political Theory, (pp. 320-337). London: Sage Publications.
  • Dunstan, H. (2001). Tunhu yu jihuang: shiba shiji gaoji guanliao zouzhe zhong suo fanying tunhu de juese. (Famine and the hoarder: the role of hoarders as reflected in the memorials of eighteenth-century senior officials). In Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University (Eds.), Ziran zaihai yu Zhongguo shehui lishi jiegou (Natural disasters and social structure in Chinese history), (pp. 211-233). Shanghai: Fudan University Press.

Journals

  • Dunstan, H. (2010). Heirs of Yu the Great: Flood Relief in 1740s China. T'oung Pao: International Journal of Chinese Studies, 96(FASC. 4 - 5), 471-542. [More Information]
  • Dunstan, H. (2010). Inconvenient Confucianism and the Construction of Heroes in Recent Chinese Reportage: A Banned Investigation into China's Peasantry. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 22(1), 1-58.
  • Dunstan, H. (2007). If Chen Yun Had Written about Her "Lesbianism": Rereading the Memoirs of a Bereaved Philanderer. Asia Major: a journal of Far Eastern Studies, 20(2), 103-122.
  • Dunstan, H. (2007). Qianlong shisan nian zai jiantao - changping cang zhengce gaige he guojia liyi quanheng (1748 re-examined: raison d'etat and policy change towards the ever-normal granaries). Qingshi Yanjiu, 2007 (2), 1-11.

Conferences

  • Dunstan, H. (2013). About As Interesting As the Telephone Directory: Encounters with Routine Fiscal Memorials of the High Qing Period. Fourth International Conference on Sinology, Taipei, Taiwan: Academia Sinica.

2013

  • Dunstan, H. (2013). About As Interesting As the Telephone Directory: Encounters with Routine Fiscal Memorials of the High Qing Period. Fourth International Conference on Sinology, Taipei, Taiwan: Academia Sinica.

2010

  • Dunstan, H. (2010). Heirs of Yu the Great: Flood Relief in 1740s China. T'oung Pao: International Journal of Chinese Studies, 96(FASC. 4 - 5), 471-542. [More Information]
  • Dunstan, H. (2010). Inconvenient Confucianism and the Construction of Heroes in Recent Chinese Reportage: A Banned Investigation into China's Peasantry. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 22(1), 1-58.

2007

  • Dunstan, H. (2007). If Chen Yun Had Written about Her "Lesbianism": Rereading the Memoirs of a Bereaved Philanderer. Asia Major: a journal of Far Eastern Studies, 20(2), 103-122.
  • Dunstan, H. (2007). Qianlong shisan nian zai jiantao - changping cang zhengce gaige he guojia liyi quanheng (1748 re-examined: raison d'etat and policy change towards the ever-normal granaries). Qingshi Yanjiu, 2007 (2), 1-11.
  • Dunstan, H. (2007). Shilun liuyang zisong zhidu zai Qianlong chao de yishi feichu (On the Qianglong-period suspension of the system of reception centers and assisted passage home for famine refugees). In Li, Wenhua and Xia, Mingfang (Eds.), Tian you xiongnian: Qingdai zaihuang yu Zhonguo shehui (Heaven sends some bad years: natural disasters and Chinese society during the Qing dynasty), (pp. 112-145). Beijing, China: Sanlian Shudian, Beijing.

2006

  • Dunstan, H. (2006). State or Merchant? Political Economy and Political Process in 1740s China. Cambridge Mass: Harvard University Asia Center.

2004

  • Dunstan, H. (2004). Premodern Chinese Political Thought. In Gerald F. Gaus and Chandran Kukathas (Eds.), Handbook of Political Theory, (pp. 320-337). London: Sage Publications.

2001

  • Dunstan, H. (2001). Tunhu yu jihuang: shiba shiji gaoji guanliao zouzhe zhong suo fanying tunhu de juese. (Famine and the hoarder: the role of hoarders as reflected in the memorials of eighteenth-century senior officials). In Institute of Chinese Historical Geography, Fudan University (Eds.), Ziran zaihai yu Zhongguo shehui lishi jiegou (Natural disasters and social structure in Chinese history), (pp. 211-233). Shanghai: Fudan University Press.

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