Carol Benedict

in Golden-Silk Smoke

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780520262775
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948563 | DOI:

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This book presents a social and cultural history of tobacco use in China from circa 1550 to the present. It analyzes the historical factors that shaped Chinese tobacco consumption over the longue durée while also contributing to an emerging historiography of Chinese consumption in cross-cultural perspective. From tobacco's initial introduction in the sixteenth century to the subsequent inclusion of snuff, water-pipe tobacco, rolled cigars, and manufactured cigarettes in the repertoire of Chinese consumption practices, China's indigenous cultures of tobacco use have consistently unfolded within a broader world-historical frame. The creative appropriation of imported tobacco initiated in the late Ming continued throughout the Qing and into the twentieth century, when cigarettes began to be widely sold in China. China's contemporary “cigarette culture”—and by extension its broader consumer culture—emerged out of an evolutionary process that unfolded in fits and starts over many centuries through ongoing, if sometimes interrupted, Chinese engagement with an already interconnected world. This book also looks at literary representations of smoking in Republican China and the decline of female smoking in China between 1900 and 1976.

Keywords: China; tobacco; cigarettes; smoking; cigarette culture; consumption; consumer culture; cultural history; rolled cigars

Chapter.  6467 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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