Wenkai He is the author of the acclaimed book Paths toward the Modern Fiscal State: England, Japan, and China (Harvard, 2013), an extraordinary comparative work, based on an impressive array of primary sources, elucidating why the modern the modern fiscal state emerged in some places and not in others.  His new book, Public Interest and State Legitimation: Early Modern England, Japan, and China (Cambridge, 2023), again marshaling vast primary source evidence, examines how a public interest-based discourse of state legitimation emerged not only in early modern England, but also in Japan and China.  This shared normative platform enabled societies to negotiate and collaborate with states over how to attain good governance through providing public goods such as famine relief and infrastructural facilities. The terms of state legitimacy opened a limited yet significant political space for the ruled to petition and protest, challenging states to fulfill their promises and address grievances about taking care of the people.  Not a few petitions demanded fundamental political reforms.  This is yet another indispensable work for all those interested in state-making in global perspective.


Wenkai He is an associate professor in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research interest is the comparative political economy of state formation. His book Paths toward the Modern Fiscal State: England, Japan, and China (Harvard University Press, 2013) examines the process of institutional development through which states managed to centralize the collection of indirect taxes to raise long-term financial resources and thus significantly enhance state capacity.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, April 25, 2024 4:00 PM PT
How Does China Spy on Its People?
Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions and China’s Global Sharp Power Project at the Hoover Institution are pleased to present a special… Encina Hall East, Goldman Conference Room, E409
Monday, April 29, 2024
The Diffusion of New Technologies | Using Text As Data In Policy Analysis
Our 25th workshop features a conversation with Tarek Hassan, Josh Lerner, and Nicholas Bloom on "The Diffusion of New Technologies" on April 29, 2024… Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Monday, May 6, 2024 6:30 PM PT
US India
Strengthening Trust With India: Implications of the 2008 US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement
The Hoover Institution invites you to Strengthening Trust With India: Implications of the 2008 US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement on  May 6, 2024 from… Hauck Auditorium, David & Joan Traitel Building
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