‘Chih Yuan’ ready for launch at Newcastle

‘Chih Yuan’ ready for launch at Newcastle upon Tyne 1886 with six Chinese officials on the launch platform. ALB0710, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

Project (2018-)

Agents of Violence: Naval Technology and Late Qing China, 1875–1911

My dissertation investigates Qing China’s engagement with European naval technology and the transnational arms trade in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. After the two Opium Wars ​in​ ​the​ ​1840s​ ​and​ ​1850s,​ ​the​ ​Qing​ ​Empire sought to refashion itself as a competitive naval power by establishing western-style dockyards and arsenals in provincial centers, sending literati-diplomats abroad to procure European ironclad warships, and apprenticing Chinese students to naval schools, arsenals and shipyards in Britain and Germany. These efforts culminated in the building of the Beiyang Navy, which consisted of steel battleships purchased from Britain and Germany, as well as an armored cruiser built in Fuzhou, China. Focusing on the transnational processes underlying the construction of the Beiyang warships, my project looks at how the Qing participated in a highly globalized system of arms production and arms trading through the intertwining networks of diplomacy, commerce and transnational apprenticeship. It also rethinks how the​ ​transnational dimensions​ ​of​ arms industry informed​ ​the emergence​ ​of​ ​a​ ​shared​ ​industrial​ ​culture​ ​that​ ​integrated the practices of experiment, quantification​ and standardization into the processes​ ​of​ ​material​ production and exchange​​. Ultimately, my research aims to delineate a globalizing military-industrial order that was driven by the competitive logic of an arms race and yet constituted a highly collaborative technological arena in which national boundaries were strikingly porous.

‘Chih Yuan’ ready for launch at Newcastle upon Tyne 1886 with six Chinese officials on the launch platform

‘Chih Yuan’ ready for launch at Newcastle upon Tyne 1886 with six Chinese officials on the launch platform. ALB0710, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.