Amidst Empires: Colonialism, China and the Chinese, 1839-1997

Matthew Fitzpatrick's picture
Call for Papers
January 29, 2018 to January 30, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Chinese History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, World History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies

Amidst Empires: Colonialism, China and the Chinese, 1839-1997

Flinders University, Adelaide 29 & 30 January, 2018. 

Like other non-European states, China came under immense pressure as Europe expanded across the globe in search of territories suitable for settler, mercantile and plantation colonies. Historically an empire in its own right, China nonetheless found it increasingly difficult to maintain its status as a power equal to Europe’s globalising empires. Increasingly surrounded by European colonies and forced to concede territorial enclaves to numerous European powers, China was confronted with the fact that there were increasing limits to its scope for sovereign action. Whether controlled by royal dynasts, nationalists or Communists, this constrained geopolitical context has had enduring effects on China.

At the same time, however, beneath the state Chinese migrants found that these same encroaching European empires opened up new avenues for global mobility, operating as convenient launching pads for lives in regions well beyond the Asia-Pacific region. Some prospered, while others found themselves ensnared in semi-free forms of labour. The reception of Chinese migrants in these new regions ranged from intermarriage and assimilation through to overt forms of state discrimination and grassroots violence.  

In an effort to bring together scholars of China and of European empire and colonialism, the conference convenors are seeking papers that deal with the following:

- Chinese state and non-state responses to imperially inflected military conflicts in and around China between the Opium Wars and the Cold War.

- Political, social and cultural responses to Europe’s penetration of China.

- The legal and economic restrictions and freedoms of Chinese migrants in European settler colonial states.

- European understandings of China and its place in the world.

- Microhistories of Chinese migrants and their experiences in imperial and colonial spaces.

- Representations and receptions of the Chinese in Europe’s imperial metropoles.

- The use and effects of Chinese labourers in settler and plantation colonies.

- Decolonisation and its effects on Chinese diaspora communities in ex-imperial spaces.

- The legacies of European imperialism in China. 

Please ensure that a maximum 200 word abstract reaches the conference convenors by 1 November 2017.   

Contact Info: 

Professor Peter Monteath & Associate Professor Matthew P Fitzpatrick

Flinders University, Adelaide Australia;