Program

Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants , Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Early Career Fellowships

Project

Objects of Taste and Knowledge: Chinese Furniture between London, Batavia, and Canton in the Long Eighteenth Century

Project

Guangdong’s Flowing Mechanism: Furniture, Craft, and Artisans across Early Modern Borders

Department

History

Named Award

This award is made possible with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Objects of Taste and Knowledge: Chinese Furniture between London, Batavia, and Canton in the Long Eighteenth Century

My dissertation examines the interaction between Europeans and Chinese in the material culture of export Chinese furniture in Canton, Batavia, and Britain during the long eighteenth century. It concerns the transmission and domestication of taste and knowledge as cultural and technical entities through the production and consumption of furniture. In particular, by examining the British “Chinese bookcase,” the Batavian “Chinese cabinet,” and the vernacular display cabinets of Canton, it shows how Europeans and Chinese co-produced and co-domesticated “Chinese-ness” in heterogeneous ways by mixing exotic and familiar cultural elements. Focusing on the intersection between the local and the global, my dissertation will thus reconfigure the cultural geography of early modern global trade.

Guangdong’s Flowing Mechanism: Furniture, Craft, and Artisans across Early Modern Borders

This book project examines Cantonese woodworkers and their mobile knowledge culture at three nodes in the their entangled itineraries during the 18th and 19th centuries: urban workshops in Guangzhou, the palace workshops in Beijing, and the Chinese enclave in Kolkata. Conceptualizing woodwork as a techno-material form of knowledge that links embodied artisanal practice and diverse commercial and institutional networks, the project shows how woodworkers formed a mobile knowledge community that actively negotiated its place between the domestic state and the foreign trade during the period of uneasy transition into modernity. The book thus locates the woodwork craft within the emergent global currents of modern technology, commodity trade, and migration.