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Posts Tagged ‘China’

British History in the Long Eighteenth Century
30 January 2013
Giorgio Riello (University of Warwick)
The World is not Enough: Global History, Cotton Textiles and the Industrial Revolution

 

(Wikipedia)

(Wikipedia)

Although the title of this paper might remind you of a James Bond film, this paper is not about the media or large conglomerates  but about the industrial revolution, and in particular the trade and use of cotton textiles. The Cotton industry formed a major component of the British Industrial Revolution but because of that the story is often formed around the rapid transformation of cotton and textiles in the nineteenth century, and generally focused around the British story.  This is not the approach that Giorgio Riello outlines in today’s paper.  Riello believes that the story of the cotton industry is made more interesting and accurate by looking at a wider picture over a longer period of time and across the world.  Cotton has a long history well before it arrived in Europe and so Riello looks at its use from 1000 AD up until the sixteenth-century as well as mechanisation in later centuries.  Through this prism it is possible to see that the changes evoked in Britain were part of a wider story that crossed from India, to China and the Americas, even a little into Africa.  Riello’s primary questions are why this major industry moved from predominantly India and China to Europe and why and how this because mechanised.  The arguments form the backbone for a forthcoming book on Cotton and the Early Modern World.

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Metropolitan History seminar
23 November 2011
Urbanising China in war and peace, Wuxi 1911-1945
Toby Lincoln (Centre for Urban History, Leicester)
Wuxi

Wuxi (Wikipedia)

 

Toby Lincoln examines Wuxi at the beginning of the twentieth century asking questions of its urban development, its composition as a city, and the effect of Japanese occupation in the 1930s.  Wuxi is an urban region in China.  Lincoln argues that Wuxi underwent a large expansion led by a modern capitalist drive, migration, and demonstration of state political power.  The occupation of the city by the Japanese led to a rebuilding of Wuxi that reflects surprising continuity and in so doing reveals the limits of Japanese occupation in the region.

Lincoln tells us that urbanisation is a long-term trend in China and that the interconnection between urban and rural landscapes demonstrates variances in lifestyle and practices.  Sometimes, urbanisation is seen in China as the effect of a decadent foreign imposition on traditional Chinese lifestyles whilst in other occasions it is viewed as Chinese progression.  Lincoln’s focus is on the overlapping geographies of Wuxi.  These are used as a way into the subject – focused on spatial understandings of flexible borders and connections between spaces.

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Histories of Home
6 December 2011
Helen Schneider (University of Oxford)
Domestic responsibilities: the discipline of home economics in twentieth century China

Chinese traditional style kitchen built in the Qing Dynasty of China , located in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China

The development of home economics education in China in the early twentieth-century was in part a parallel to similar developments in America and the Western world, but also in part an attempt in China to improve standards.  There was an entrenched belief that women were naturally inclined toward homemaking and that home economics study was to supplement and improve the skills Chinese woman already possessed.  Helen Schneider looks at how home economics provide us the opportunity to study gender roles, family, and the organisation of the home in the early twentieth century.  The Chinese example, as of those elsewhere, favoured a push towards making home economics a science focusing on hygiene, food chemistry, house design and time management skills amongst much else.  Practice homes were created to train students where decisions were made as to how western or how Chinese these should be.  For instance electric lights were added (which were less common in China than in America) but chopsticks remained.  The rise of home economics as a discipline fell again as the century progressed and it is now a largely forgotten footnote both in China and the West, yet as Schneider shows us, there is still much that can be learnt from its study. 

 To listen to this podcast click here.

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