The resurgence of interest in the practices and legacies of colonialism has seen much attention paid to the insights comparative perspectives might draw. Nevertheless in practice, there has been very little empirically focused, detailed and truly comparative scholarship, especially with regards to Chinese cities.
A 3-year collaborative research project, led by Professor Robert Bickers (University of Bristol) takes advantage of the opportunities offered for a comparative analytical approach by the Chinese port city of Tianjin. Between 1860 and 1945, Tianjin was the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, as well as, temporarily, a multi-national military government (1900-02), and a series of evolving municipal administrations.
The research aims at producing a comparative and trans-national analysis of the identities, practices and rivalries of five of the major powers established in Tianjin:
The project will provide new insights into the understanding of colonial history, as well as the history of China, and will produce work with crossover value between a variety of different subfields of history and political science. Three international conferences, three monographs, two edited collections of papers and a number of journal articles are promised.