Kathleen Poling - History Faculty - Colgate University

Colgate Directory

Kathleen Poling


BA in History, University of California, Berkeley; MA, PhD in East Asian History, University of California, Berkeley


  • Late Imperial China
  • Modern China
  • Comparative history of punishment
  • Chinese legal history


I study punishment in Late Imperial China. My dissertation, titled "The Performance of Power and the Administration of Justice," tracks in detail the process by which the Qing dynasty reviewed the cases of criminals sentenced to execution after a yearly imperial review. My dissertation is the first English-language work to consider in depth this system of review, sometimes called the "assize system." In this project, I argue for a definition of justice based on the Qing's own priorities rather than the assumptions made by Western historians.

Beyond the administration of punishment, I am particularly interested in the public performance of the death penalty in Imperial China and the way that foreign observers have leveraged those performances.


  • Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2009-10 academic year
  • Liu Graduate Research Fellowship in Chinese Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Center for Chinese Studies, 2007-08 academic year
  • University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division Academic Progress Award & History Department Block Grant for Research, 2007-08 academic year
  • Fulbright Fellowship for Research in China, 2006-07
  • University of California, Berkeley History Department Heller Grant, 2006
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies (F.L.A.S.) Fellowship for the Study of Mandarin Chinese, 2004-05, 2005-06
  • California Alumni Association Rosalie Stern Fellowship, 2001-02