Qing China – between walls and the maritime world

Professor Yang-wen Zheng (University of Manchester) 
Wind of the West Ocean [西洋风]: How the Maritime World Shaped Modern China 
ITSH and Modern History Seminar Series
Time and Venue:
Monday, 30 January 2017, room 1.10, School of History, St Andrews (St Katherine’s Lodge, The Scores)
Generations of Chinese scholars have made China’s frontiers synonymous with the Great Wall and presented its civilization as fundamentally land-bound. I have challenged this perspective, demonstrating that China was not a “Walled Kingdom”, certainly not since the Yongjia Disturbance in 311.  China reached out to the maritime world far more actively than historians have acknowledged, while the seas and what came from the seas-from Islam, fragrances and Jesuits to maize, opium and clocks—significantly changed the course of history, and have been of inestimable importance to China since the Ming. 
It is time we integrate the maritime history of China, a subject which has hitherto languished on the periphery of Chinese studies, into the mainstream of current historical narrative. This talk focuses on the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) when China’s maritime trade pattern changed as its imports shifted from luxuries catering to the court and elite, as they had done since the Han-Tang era, to mundane consumer items.  This change began in the latter half of the Ming and became obvious during the Qing.  What led to this change and what can we learn from it?  From what the Chinese wear to what they eat, chew, drink and smoke, from how they live to the ways in which they move themselves, and even to the manner in which they think and re-invent the country, foreign goods, inventions and ideas that came from the maritime world have fundamentally changed Chinese economy, culture, society and even politics. 

CFP “The Global City, Past and Present” (Workshop 1: “Space”, St Andrews, 14-15 May 2015)

EmmaHartWe are delighted to announce that Dr Emma Hart has been awarded an AHRC International Research Network Grant for her project on Global Cities. You can read more about Dr Hart’s successful application on the School of History’s blog.

Applications are now open for the project’s first workshop in May 2015. You can access the full Call for Papers by clicking on this link. Proposals and a CV should be sent to Emma Hart (efh2 [a] st-andrews.ac.uk) by 30th September 2014.

New Strand on Transnational and Global History

This year’s annual conference of the Social History Society, held at Newcastle University 8-10 April 2014, opened with a number of new strands, one of which in Transnational and Global History. The new strand was launched with a panel on “Perceiving and Conceptualising Space“. The panel included three of our current PhD students Dawn Jackson Williams, Jordan Girardin and Jason Varner.

The connecting theme and analytical perspective through the three papers on early European encounters with the new world (Jason Varner), the perception of landscape and mountains in the early modern period (Dawn Jackson Williams) and the making of the Alps as a transnational space (Jordan Girardin) was taken from Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space.

In particular Lefebvre’s conceptions of space and spatial practices including espace vécu (lived space) as well as representations of space have and will continue to be a theme around various activities at the Centre including reading groups and workshops on mapping and visualisation of transnational spaces.