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Personal profile

Research interests

Research

I am a historian of China and the US, specialising in the ways transimperial contact, culture, race, gender, and national identity shaped and were shaped by interactions in colonial and semi-colonial spaces. I am especially interested in experimenting with scale, and in exploring digital humanities applications for redefining the ways scholars research and communicate history. My work on Sino-American interactions and the global ties that connected China and the US in the nineteenth century can be found in Cultural and Social History, Gender & History, The Historical Journal, and forthcoming with the Pacific Historical Review.

I am currently completing my monograph The China Firm: Elite Americans and the Making of British Colonial Society, under contract with Columbia University Press. The China Firm traces the rise and fall of the American firm Augustine Heard & Co. to disentangle the symbiotic relationship between American elites and the British imperial/colonial project in China. The book considers the negotiated processes whereby Americans adapted to or rejected British colonial culture as they sought to carve out a place amongst the foreign elite living and trading along the China coast.

My second book-length project broadens the historical scope to consider American transimperialism in China and how Qing government officials and the Chinese public managed an ostensibly neutral but increasingly belligerent American presence intent on opening China further to trade and proselyting in the nineteenth century. In addition, I currently oversee the British-Academy funded ‘Mapping Sino-Foreign Networks and Mobility in China’ digital project (experiment brief here; proof-of-concept here), which incorporates Natural Language Processing, Social Network Analysis (SNA), GIS, and data visualisation to catalogue and reconstruct socio-commercial networks along the China coast.

 

Engagement

Reflecting my commitment to bridging historical areas, I am an active participant in various activities aimed at elevating the University of Bristol’s research culture. I was involved with the Hong Kong History Project and am a supporting researcher for the new Hong Kong History Centre. I am also Head of Activities for Bristol’s American Studies Research Group, and organise the department’s Asian History and American Studies PGR seminars.

I am further committed to supporting faculty-level digital humanities literacy, having hosted training seminars on database design and data visualisation, assisted colleagues in delivering their digital projects, and presented demonstrations on digital research to the history department and the wider public.

 

Teaching

I have taught on and supported a range of subjects across Bristol’s undergraduate programme. These have included the first year ‘Modern World’ unit, second year ‘Global Histories’ and ‘Decolonisation’ units, and the third year ‘Horrible Histories’ and ‘Dissertations’ units.

I have also designed guest lectures for units at the University of Macau on Pearl River trade networks and gender in colonial society.

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