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Macabe Keliher, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History

Teaching Fields:


PhD, Harvard University, 2015
MA, George Washington University, 2007

Research Interests:

I am a historian of early modern and modern China. My primary research interests are political culture and law, with a particular focus on state formation in pre-modern and modern China. My current project explores the construction of administrative organization and operations in mid seventeenth-century Qing China. Drawing on Chinese- and Manchu-language archives, I argue against the received wisdom that the Manchus copied Ming institutions and adopted Chinese  ruling practices, and show that they created anew a system of ruling and administrative practices that were codified into law in the making of a multiethnic empire. The results of this research will be published in two books. The first explores the Manchu construction of political solidarity and administrative order, and the second explains why the Manchus were more successful in this endeavor than other nomadic conquerors. Together, these two books address one of the most enduring questions of early modern Chinese history: How did the Manchus conquer and rule? More broadly, they explore themes of law and empire and the role of nomadic conquerors in world history. 

Courses Offered

  • HIST 106: East Asia, An Introduction 
  • HIST 202: History of Modern Legal Thought
  • HIST 325: Modern China 
  • HIST 435: History of Chinese Thought

Selected Publications:

The Problem of Imperial Relatives in Early Modern Empires and the Making of Qing China,” American Historical Review 122, no. 4 (October 2017): 1001–37.

"Leading Through Ritual: Ceremony and Emperorship in Early Modern China,” Leadership (January 2017): 1-25.

"State Ritual and Political Culture in Imperial and Late Imperial China: Reflections on Li," Journal for Cultural Interaction in East Asia, 8 (2017): 113-118.

"Administrative Law and the Making of the First Da Qing Huidian," Late Imperial China, 37, no. 1 (2016): 55-107.

"Li zhe xingzhenfa ye: shiqi shiji zhengzhi fencing yu Qingchao xingzheng zhixu de jiangou [Li as Administrative Law: Political Stratification and the Construction of Qing Administrative Order in Seventeenth-Century China] (in Chinese)," Fudan Law Review, 3 (May 2016): 84-114.

"Corruption, Anticorruption, and the Transformation of Political Culture in Contemporary China," The Journal of Asian Studies, 75, no. 01 (February 2016): 5-18.


National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Scholar, 2017
Riggle Fellowship in the Humanities, 2017
American Mandarin Society, Fellows Program, 2016
Indiana University Maurer School of Law Jerome Hall Fellow, 2015-2016
China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies Best Paper Prize, 2015
Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Fellowship, 2014-2015
Fulbright Institute of International Education Research Grant, 2011-2012