- Harvard University Press
Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination
- Robert Bickers
- Harvard University Press
- 9.5 X 6.4 X 1.7 inches
- 2.2 pounds
- History > Asia - China
Nationalism matters in China, and what matters in China matters to everyone. China's new nationalism, Robert Bickers shows, is rooted not in its present power but in shameful memories of its former weaknesses. Invaded, humiliated, and looted in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by foreign powers, China looks out at the twenty-first century through the lens of the past. History matters deeply to Beijing's current rulers, and Out of China explains why.
Bickers tracks the long, often agonizing process by which the Chinese regained control of their own country. He describes the corrupt, lurid modernity of prewar Shanghai, the often tiny patches of extraterritorial land controlled by foreign powers, the entrep�ts of Hong Kong and Macao, and the myriad means--through armed threats, technology, and legal chicanery--by which China was kept subservient until, gradually, it emerged from Western control. This plural and partial subjugation of China is a story that involves not only European powers and Japan but also the United States.
This complex history must be grasped not to atone for the sins of the past but to recognize China's internationalized landscapes with all their contradictions, violence, cosmopolitanism, and ambitions. The story of the foreign presence in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is too important to be left in the hands of the Chinese party-state and its approved script. Out of China is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand what shapes China's view of the world in the twenty-first century.
Specialises in the history of colonialism, and in particular of the British empire and its relations with China and the history of Shanghai (1843-1950s), and modern Chinese history.
My most recent book is China Bound: John Swire & Sons and its World, a history of the British company John Swire & Sons in the context of, and as a case study in, nineteenth and century globalization as experienced by and shaped by some of the actors involved.
My previous book, Out of China: How the Chinese ended the era of Western Domination (Allen Lane, and Harvard University Press, 2017), was shortlisted for the 2018 Wolfson Prize for History. This is available as a Penguin Books paperback in the UK. I am interested, too, in experimenting with how we tell such histories, and in thinking about what stories we tell, and have been collaborating with colleagues in a 'Creative Histories' initiative. For more on which see our new article in History Workshop Journal.
My earlier work includes Britain in China (1999), and three books published by Allen Lane/Penguin: Empire Made Me: An Englishman adrift in Shanghai (2003), The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 (2011) and Getting Stuck in for Shanghai: Putting the Kibosh on the Kaiser from the Bund (Penguin, 2014). My interest in the world of British colonialism more broadly underpins a volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire companion series that I edited on British communities across the worlds of formal and informal empire.
I am also interested in cemeteries and photographs (and the lives they live), clipper ships, lighthouses and meteorology in China, giants and circuses. Other recent books include a volume co-edited with Jonathan J. Howlett, University of York: Britain and China, 1840-1970: Empire, Finance, and War, and with Isabella Jackson, Trinity College Dublin: Treaty Ports in Modern China: Law, Land & Power.
I direct the Hong Kong Kong History Project, and the Historical Photographs of China digitisation initiative. I also formely ran an AHRC-funded project on the history of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, was Director and Co-Director of the British Inter-university China Centre, a Co-Director of the AHRC-funded REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub, and led an ESRC-funded project, 'Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under nine flags' (2008-11).
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