On Thursday (May 3) at 09.00, Di Wang will be defending her thesis in a viva-voce examination. The viva is public and all are welcome to attend.
Room 8.105, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Unofficial Russo-Qing Trade on the Eastern Kazakh Steppe and in Northern Xinjiang in the First Half of the 19th Century
The Treaty of Kuldja (Ili) signed in 1851 between the Russian empire and the Qing empire marked the start of the official Russo-Qing trade in Xinjiang. This thesis aims to explore the generally neglected pre-1851 unofficial Russo-Qing trade on the Eastern Kazakh steppe and in Northern Xinjiang by examining the trade in three area: Semipalatinsk, Tarbagatai and Ili. This pre-treaty era Russo-Qing trade was regarded as illegal on the Qing side with little information available, but legal on the Russian side with abundant data. By comparing the information in Chinese and Russian sources, this thesis argues that the original legal and official Kazakh-Qing trade established in the 1760s was gradually transformed into an unofficial Russo-Qing trade in the first half of the 19th century. Besides analyzing the motivation and the stance of the Russian empire and the Qing empire, this thesis highlights the role of individual actors such as merchants, nomads, government officials and border guards in forging the trade. This thesis also discusses the commodities in the trade, the myth of silver flow and the discovery of the dramatic price change in the year of 1840. The analysis of travelogues and quantitative archival data of the imports and exports of the Semipalatinsk custom post from the 1820s to the 1840s complement the existing scholarship on this topic. By discussing the above-mentioned themes, the author reaches the conclusion that the pre-Treaty era unofficial trade was already marked by established institutions and diverse commodities, though with a high degree of informality. The 1851 Treaty of Kuldja which officialized the Russo-Qing trade in Ili and Tarbagatai did not establish a new trade, but was a result of the pre-Treaty period unofficial trade and carried many characteristics of the pre-treaty era trade.
External Adviser: Prof. Erika Monahan, University of New Mexico