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Global Encounters between China and Europe: Trade Networks, Consumption and Cultural Exchanges in Macau and Marseille (1680-1840)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GECEM (Global Encounters between China and Europe: Trade Networks, Consumption and Cultural Exchanges in Macau and Marseille (1680-1840))

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-06-30

The GECEM project seeks out new directions and engages the primary challenges of practicing Global History for the 21st century. This includes the role of China in the international community and its relations with western powers, mainly Europe. The hegemonic position and/or leadership of this Asian giant cannot be fully understood if we do not also consider historical perspectives and the early origins of such relations. Yet this intellectual challenge can be addressed, since the aim of GECEM is to use new historical evidence from China and Europe during the early modern period to shed new light on overarching questions such as why China did not develop at the same economic levels than northwestern Europe in the first industrialization or why modern capitalism did not emerge in China. These are vital questions, first raised by social science theorists and scholars from the California School.

The use of big aggregate data such as GDP is often the main preoccupation of scholars and economic historians, and such use has a notable counterpart in the Chinese public, even outside academic circles, as shown by GDP as macro-economic indicator used by Chinese political circles to demonstrate the economic leadership of the country. However, we must ask if the GDP is the appropriate indicator to analyze the economic prosperity of a given country and the real wealth of social classes. Consumer behavior, trade networks that fostered the global circulation of goods, technology and people, as well as cultural transfers inherent to these features, are the main indicators to analyze economic development for Qing China and early modern Europe. Thus, the main aim of this project is to analyze for period from 1680 to 1840 in reference to the socio-economic and cultural impact of the consumption of western products (i.e. European and American origin) in China such as potatoes, tobacco, red wine, cotton and other luxury products such as clocks, mirrors and crystal glasses, as well as the consumption of Chinese goods in Europe (Marseille and Seville-Cadiz) such as silk, tea and porcelain.

There are several models of economic growth in Europe and China to explain why Europe developed faster in the first industrial revolution, while China was left behind. The main explanation is that this take-off was due to the discovery of the Americas, new outposts, raw materials, and energy resources. Such claims, however, need further justification and the GECEM project provides new insights to the great divergence debate by measuring and evaluating new micro data about levels of consumption across different social groups. This approach might be defined as the micro-foundations of the great divergence. The use of GECEM database as a methodological tool is helping us to quantify levels of consumption for the above-mentioned goods in China and Europe. This will demonstrate the economic differences between West and East regions and track how changes in consumer behavior are correlated with economic growth. The study case of two city ports, Macao and Marseille, as trans-national regions that fostered global trade and consumption, is our entry point into this vital area of inquiry.
The GECEM project has a unique group of professionals and academics with a strong commitment to achieve the academic goals of the project. A team characterized by diversity and interdisciplinary as it is composed by scholars from China, Europe and the Americas, with expertise in different areas of social sciences and humanities. It is very important to mention the important role and contribution of the GECEM team: the Principal Investigator (P.I.) the administrative staff, the senior staff, the PhD researchers, and the postdoctoral researcher. An overview of the results is provided here, mentioning the milestones of the GECEM project:

- July/2016 (1st month of GECEM), kick-off meeting of GECEM project at UPO: organizing the work and plan of GECEM project, distribution of work packages and first draft of GECEM Database and launching GECEM website.
- November/2016 (5th month of GECEM), 1st GECEM Workshop: presenting the main questions, hypothesis and sources of GECEM project to implement GECEM Database.
- November/2016 (5th month of GECEM): agreement signed between Manuel Perez-Garcia (P.I. of GECEM) and Sara Crowley (editor in chief of Palgrave in Asia) for a new series Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History (visit the link Manuel Perez-Garcia is the editor in chief of the series.
- February / 2017 (8th month of GECEM), 2nd GECEM Workshop at UPO: presentation of main scheme of GECEM Database and the phases for its implementation by Manuel Perez-Garcia. Publication of an article titled Global History vs. eurocentrism: Historiographical review, analysis on consumption and a comparative case study between China and Europe (1730-1808) by Manuel Perez-Garcia at the journal Economic History Research
- April / 2017 (10th month of GECEM), GECEM Database first tests and trials to check the functionality of the database.
- November / 2017 (17th month of GECEM), delivering by GECEM PhD researchers of the first chapter of their PhD dissertation and publication of their working papers in REPEC (repository of Economic History papers)
- October/November/December 2017 (16th, 17th, 18th month of GECEM), GECEM archive missions: collecting historical data at the archives of China (First Historical Archives of China, The Beijing Center, Historical Archives of Canton) and Seville (Provincial Historical Archive, Archive of Indies) to start the implementation of GECEM Database for data collection.
- December 2017 (18th month of GECEM), publication of the 1st GECEM book, Global History and New Polycentric Approaches: Europe, Asia and the Americas in a World Network System, at the Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, Palgrave Macmillan: 2017. Published as Open Access and edited by Manuel Perez Garcia and Lucio de Sousa (
- January/February/March, 2018 (19th, 20th, 21st month of GECEM), launching at UPO the GECEM Seminar Series in Global History and East Asian Studies.
- May 2018 (23rd month of GECEM), preliminary results of GECEM project presented by GECEM researchers at the LASA2018 International Congress (Latin American Studies in a Globalized World): panel organized by Manuel Perez-Garcia (P.I. of GECEM) titled Beyond the Silk Road: The Silver Route and the Manila – Acapulco Galleons for the Global Circulation of Goods and People in China, Europe and the Americas.
- July/August 2018 (25th, 26th month of GECEM), preliminary results of GECEM project presented by GECEM researchers at the XVIII World Economic History Conference (Waves of Globalization) at MIT, Boston: panel organized by Manuel Perez-Garcia (P.I. of GECEM) titled Social Network Analysis and Databases for New Comparative Global History Studies in China, Europe, and the Americas.
- Septemb
The GECEM project examines the strategic geopolitical sites that fostered commerce, consumption and socioeconomic networks between China and Europe via a particular case study: Macau, along with South China, and Marseille in Mediterranean Europe from 1680 to 1840. Such concrete comparison helps to narrow the gap that some researchers have created when widely analyzing the differences between Asia and Europe in the absence of specific geographical and chronological delineation. Specialists in the field of Global (Economic) History, as well as those dealing with the great divergence debate have frequently been compelled to rely on vague comparisons between China and Europe, without substantial empirical evidence, to analyze economic growth during the early modern period. However, less effort has been made to measure micro data such as levels of consumption of different social groups. For this reason, more case studies are needed to properly implement such comparisons. The main hypothesis of the GECEM project is that merchants, as ‘vicarious consumers,’ mediated in the introduction of new goods, leading to changes in consumer behavior in Europe and China. The analysis of trade networks in China (Macau) and Europe (the economic axis connecting Marseille-Seville), the introduction and consumption in these European markets of Chinese goods (tea, silk, porcelain), as well as trade and consumption of European goods (mirrors, glassware, red wine, clocks) for Chinese regions, are the crucial elements to develop our hypothesis. Thus, the work package undertaken by GECEM researchers is based on the analysis of these merchant networks and circulation of the mentioned goods which might cause socio-cultural transfers and assimilation of new cultural forms. The results achieved during the implementation of these academic efforts in this first is connected to the main hypothesis of the GECEM project and the achievement of the final goals at the end of the project.

Through the national diversity of the GECEM research staff (who originate from China, Europe and the Americas and who range in experience from new PhD researchers to advanced research fellows, and senior researchers, the accomplishment of this project underlines the concept of interdisciplinarity and marks the creation of a new school of global historians. December 2018 marks 30 months of the GECEM project, which officially started in July 1st, 2016. Since then, the GECEM project has reached a major milestone with the first book published as Open Access titled Global History and New Polycentric Approaches: Europe, Asia and the Americas in a World Network System, co-edited by Manuel Perez-Garcia and Lucio de Sousa. This book is the first one in the Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, (editor-in-chief is prof. Manuel Perez-Garcia). This achievement, during the very early stages of GECEM, as well as other forthcoming monographs in Open Access (in the Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History) such as Iberian World Empires and the Globalization of Europe 1415-1668, authored by Prof. Bartolome Yun-Casalilla (senior staff of GECEM), the forthcoming monograph by Manuel Perez-Garcia (P.I. of GECEM), articles in peer-review international journals indexed at the Web of Science published by Manuel Perez-Garcia, and participation in international conferences/workshops organized by prestigious academic institutions, stand out as major academic results.

During this first period of GECEM project, it is relevant to mention the work undertaken by the GECEM staff in data collection at historical archives, namely: The First Historical Archives of China in Beijing, The Anton Library of The Beijing Center (University of International Business and Economics in Beijing), The Provincial Historical Archives of Canton, The Historical Archives of Macao, The Provincial Historical Archive of Seville, and The General Archive of the Indies in Seville. A
1st GECEM workshop at University of Chicago-Beijing Center
ERC EURAXESS China Shanghai bis 2018
One Asia Talks Conference University British Columbia october 2018
GECEM EURASIA TRAJECO international congress 2018
GECEM team UPO rector vicerector and OTRI director at the international week of science UPO
GECEM PI and President of ERC presenting ERC Programs and GECEM project in Beijing 2016
ERC EURAXESS China Shanghai 2018
presenting GECEM project with Shanghai Jiao Tong University EU Delegation and Euraxess China
2nd GECEM workshop at UPO
GECEM Database interface
agreement between GECEM and Palgrave for New Series in Global History at 1st GECEM workshop
GECEM team at the Imperial Archives in the Forbidden City Beijing China
GECEM staff working at TBC archives China
GECEM team digitalizing historical documenst at TBC Beijing
1st GECEM book cover Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History