Virtual event: Thomas Larkin – ‘I am not now, that which I have been’: A global-microhistory of Augustine Heard & Company (8 April)

Event: Chinese Business History Webinar: Thomas Larkin – ‘I am not now, that which I have been’: A global-microhistory of Augustine Heard & Company (8 April)

by Ghassan Moazzin

Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Chinese Business History Webinar

‘I am not now, that which I have been’: A global-microhistory of Augustine Heard & Company

Dr. Thomas Larkin
University of Bristol

Date and Time: April 8, 2022 (Fri), 4:30-5:30 pm (HKT) / 9:30-10:30 am (BST)
Register now: https://hku.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zwg4kEUBTT27Jl8fO9Vv8g

Abstract
Founded in 1840 following a rift between partners of Russell & Co., Augustine Heard & Co. rapidly became the second largest American trading firm in China. The firm expanded operations throughout China’s treaty ports, its partners witnessing first-hand many of the defining moments of Sino-Western contact during the nineteenth century. But by 1876 the firm had failed, the Heard brothers retreating from China to pursue new interests in Europe in the United States.  Still, in the course of their enterprise, the brothers generated a massive amount of material describing life and commerce on the China coast. Applying an innovative global-microhistorial approach to the history of the firm’s partners, my research uses the case study of this company to explore the ways American merchants were shaped by their experiences living and trading within both the British and Qing empires. It in turn explores the various ways these merchants were active participants in Britain’s imperial project in China.

About the Speaker
Thomas Larkin is Augustine Heard Fellow at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on interactions between China, the US and Britain in the long nineteenth century, and how the competition and cohesion between western communities influenced Hong Kong’s social and cultural development. His current project draws upon global-microhistorical and transimperial methodologies to investigate the extent to which communities in Hong Kong were or were not interwoven into broader historical narratives.

Larkin has published on race, gender, and treaty port culture in China, and forthcoming articles consider the socio-cultural circuits that bound Americans in China to the metropole. Research interests include identity, society, and culture in China’s treaty port communities, global and microhistorical methodologies, and the digital humanities.

This monthly webinar series features the newest research on the history of Chinese business and entrepreneurship. 

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