My primary interests lie in the nature of European and North American empires and their globalizing effects in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I currently focus on treaty port China to understand the ways in which these maritime spaces served as gateways for the movement of people, goods and ideas into, as well as out of, East Asia.
In particular, I investigate the history of treaty port Fuzhou, one of the original five Chinese cities opened to foreign residence after 1842, as a local case study of these global processes. First, as a mainly British global tea port and later as the base for American Methodist expansion into the Far East, Fuzhou was buffeted by multiple waves of international exchange.
My research highlights the importance of understanding the mechanisms of international exchanges teasing out the role of specific communities, institutions and practices in shaping their nature and evolution. Doing so reveals the different roles the British and American empires played in China and in shaping its place within the modern world.
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