Macabe Keliher is a historian of early modern and modern China. He is currently Associate Professor of History at Southern Methodist University.

His book on politics and ritual in early modern China, The Board of Rites and the Making of Qing China (University of California Press, 2019), won the Academia Sinica Tso Shun-sheng Award and the Association for Asian Studies Joseph Levenson Prize honorable mention. Focusing on symbolic practices that disciplined political actors and legitimized authority, the book challenges traditional understandings of state-formation and argues that ceremonial and ritual acts not only defined power and authority but also played a key role in shaping political order in seventeenth-century Qing China to lay the basis for empire.

He is currently at work on a four-part history of capitalism in China, exploring developments from 1400 to the present. The institution-centered approach in the four planned books will chart the development of a political economy shaping both society and individual consciousness.

  1. The first book explores lending and investment in the Ming and Qing and asks how the emergent market economy reshaped social property relations.
  2. The second book examines the economic logic of Ming/Qing social actors, showing why they made the choices they did and the web of relations that drove those decisions and their consequences.
  3. The third book looks at new understandings of work in the late Qing and early Republic, asking how and why the idea of wage labor became accepted and standardized over either Mencian conceptions or Western liberal and socialist ideals.
  4. The fourth installment of the project is a history of the transformation of the postwar Hong Kong political economy, and is currently underway.