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Consuming China in early modern England and beyond: a survey and reexamination

Po, Ronald C. ORCID: 0000-0002-9678-0536 (2023) Consuming China in early modern England and beyond: a survey and reexamination. Asian Review of World Histories, 11 (2). 180 - 209. ISSN 2287-965X

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Identification Number: 10.1163/22879811-bja10018


If we traveled back in time to the first half of the eighteenth century, we might notice that the cargo aboard an East Indiaman was rather diversified. But of these different products from different countries, a sizable number of them were manufactured in and originated from China. Why was China, alone among many other countries, able to secure its place as a world factory at the time? In this paper, I will suggest that we could not possibly understand how tea and porcelain became synonyms for China without tracing their histories back to the early modern world. We would not be able to deepen our understanding of Anglo-Chinese relations without taking into consideration the flow and circulations of goods between the two powers. My purpose here, therefore, is to outline these very connections throughout the early modern era, roughly from the late seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, based on the fascinating studies conducted by pioneering historians in the field over the past few decades. If we follow the life histories of some of the Chinese commodities, can we determine the ways in which those imported items interacted with the European market in general and the British in particular? Other than treating these commodities as marketable goods, are there any other intellectual perspectives available to help us better comprehend their associations with the early modern world?

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2023 13:33
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 06:24

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