The Sea in Modern Chinese History

History 103F.001

Fall 2018
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 10-12
Class Number: 

Between the Opium War (1839-1842) and the opening of the 21st century China emerged to become a maritime power out of its historical past as a continental empire. How did this transformation come about? What is the significance of the maritime world in the making and remaking of late imperial and modern China? How does a focus on the sea inspire historians to rethink the nature of modern Chinese transformation? This seminar examines Chinese engagement with the sea and asks questions about how such engagement might have generated norms and alternatives to the institutions and practices of the land.Topics for discussion will include (but not be limited to) the following: maritime relationships under the tributary system, coastal economies of piracy and smuggling, maritime networks across East and Southeast Asia, Chinese cultural constructions of the South and the sea, intellectual remapping of the maritime space in the 19th century, state-building and the institutionalization of maritime governance, knowledge production about the sea, reconfigurations of China’s maritime strategies, Chinese engagement with an international discourse of maritime norms, and Chinese engagement with the Pacific and the trans-Pacific as arenas of activities.

Readings will include materials about China, Asia, and the Pacific.