Jonathan Schlesinger

Jonathan Schlesinger

Assistant Professor, History

  • (812) 855-6882
  • Ballantine Hall 835
  • Office Hours
    By Appointment Only


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2012


I am a historian of late imperial China and environmental history. My first book, A World Trimmed with Fur, studies the nexus of empire, environment, and market that defined Qing China in 1750-1850, when unprecedented commercial expansion and a rush for natural resources transformed the ecology of China and its borderlands. That boom, no less than today’s, had profound institutional, ideological, and environmental causes and consequences. Indeed, the boom years witnessed a reinvention of nature itself. Early modern wilderness was not a state of nature; it reflected the nature of the state.

My research builds from experience in the PRC, Taiwan, and Mongolia. I work with Chinese, Manchu, and Mongolian language archives, love the study of material objects, and am drawn to the global dimensions of China’s environmental history.  My current research examines the history of five African castaways - rhino horn traders involved in a mutiny off the Korean coast - whom the Qing court investigated in 1801.