Britain and China, pasts, presents and futures, from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first
1st Call for papers
University of Bristol, 24th-26th August 2011
For nearly a century China’s relationship with Britain and its empire was politically its most important, setting the agenda, for good and for ill, for its relations with other powers. Chinese and Britons encountered each other in the Chinese treaty ports like Shanghai or Tianjin, in the colony of Hong Kong, in port cities across the British empire, in rural Australia and urban Canada, and in London’s Limehouse. They encountered each other on battlefields and in brothels, in chapels and in clinics, in factories and on steamships. Very large numbers of Britons visited or worked in China sometimes for very long periods, some for several generations. Major British trading firms and financial institutions which emerged in the nineteenth century still play key roles today in East Asia. And Chinese students came to British universities. Chinese Merchants lived and traded in British empire cities. British Chinese fortunes helped reshape the Scottish landscape as opium traders returned and bought estates. Chinese-Australian entrepreneurs and others reshaped Chinese cities. The legacies of this complex set of relationships, overshadowed as the twentieth century progressed by China’s relations with Japan, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., have nonetheless been long lasting.
Convened by the British Inter-university China Centre This conference will assess that relationship and its legacy today. It will explore the diplomatic and politic relationship between the British and Chinese states, but is concerned equally centrally with the encounters over two centuries between Britons and Chinese, and between British and Chinese culture. It will also explore the current and potential future course of Sino-British relations, and the place of this history within that. And more than ever before, many thousands of Chinese and British nationals live in each others’ countries, fashioning a new set of relationships between the two cultures and societies. Academic interest in the wide history of such Sino-British encounters has been growing over the last decade. This conference will bring together this new and developing scholarship, and map out new agendas for understanding the often brittle relationship between Britons and Chinese.
We welcome proposals from across disciplines for both panels (to include 3 speakers, and discussant) and for individual papers. Potential topics and disciplinary approaches include, but are by no means limited to: diplomatic and political relations; commercial interaction; conflicts; British empire and Chinese migration; the Britain-British India-China nexus; cultural relations; literatures; travel writing; prominent or marginal individuals or groups; Chinese studies in Britain, and British studies in China; the histories of the treaty ports, and of Chinatowns; Weihaiwei; Hong Kong; Taiwan; Tibet.
Individual paper abstracts (max: 500 words), or Panel proposals (3 paper abstracts plus panel rationale, 500 words), should be sent in to BICC Administrator, Daniel Holloway firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 31st January 2011. Please list the title of the paper at the top of the abstract, and at the end list name, institutional affiliation and contact information.
The organisers expect to be able to contribute to some, though not necessarily all, travel and accommodation expenses.
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