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

Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2020-12-31

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.

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.

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, research fellows, and the postdoctoral researcher. An overview of the results is provided here, mentioning the milestones of the GECEM project:

- Kick-off meetings of GECEM project to organizing the work and plan at the beginning of the project, distribution of work packages, mock-ups and tests of GECEM Database, and launching GECEM website.
- Organization of GECEM workshops, lecture series and organization of panels at international conferences.
- New book series at Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History in which Manuel Perez-Garcia P.I. of GECEM Project is the editor-in-chief.
- Publications of monographs, edited books, chapter books, editing special issues and publishing articles at SSCI & AHCI indexed journals, as well as the periodical publication of GECEM Newsletter for the dissemination of results.
- Development of the thesis of GECEM PhD researchers, the research of GECEM postdoc and research fellows and the project manager.
-GECEM archive missions: collecting historical data at the archives of Beijing, Shanghai, and Canton in China, Macao, Seville (Spain), and Marseille (France).

The summary of deliverables for the current reporting period consisted of Open Access publications such as articles in peer reviewed journals, working papers, GECEM newsletter, GECEM edited books and monographs published at the Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, book chapters, monographs in prestigious international publishing houses, and publication of special issues and articles in peer reviewed journals. The total number of these publications is listed below:

Number of articles in peer review journals: 15
Number of working papers: 3
Number of GECEM Newsletters: 4
Forthcoming publications (2 monographs and 8 articles in peer reviewed journals): 10
Edited Books: 1
Monographs: 5
Book Chapters: 6
Total: 44
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.

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. Currently this data collection is undertaken by GECEM researchers, and data are being stored in the new GECEM database. This database is designed with MySQL system and it is linked with other computer applications such as G.I.S (Geographic Information System), Gephi (for social network analysis), Genopro (for family relations analysis), and Atlas software. Such a multi-relational database goes beyond the traditional scheme of storing data in a rigid electronic repository, and it enables us to deal with and cross-reference historical data through quantitative and qualitative analysis. This shows the uniqueness of the design of this ground-breaking database, mainly for the area of social sciences and humanities. The database is operative to cross-referencing European and Chinese sources. This process can be defined as a new historical ‘Big Data’ analysis.

The deliverables and academic output of GECEM, participation in academic forums and the work at historical archives, would have not been possible without the GECEM academic network and the ongoing cooperation with the Global History Network (GHN) founded in 2012 by prof. Manuel Perez Garcia (director of GHN), prof. Lucio de Sousa (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) and prof. Liu Beicheng (Tsinghua University). The work undertaken by the GHN since 2012 has helped to create a permanent forum of discussion between eastern and western scholars specializing in global history. Conferences and publications have been generated since then, consolidating in parallel the academic mission of the GHN and achievements of GECEM project. Upcoming GECEM actions are being developed and implemented through the complementary support of GHN.
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