Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

ERC

GECEM Report Summary

Project ID: 679371
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GECEM (Global Encounters between China and Europe: Trade Networks, Consumption and Cultural Exchanges in Macau and Marseille (1680-1840))

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

GECEM project seeks out new directions and engages primary challenges of Global History for the 21st century, including the role of China in the international community; its relations with western powers, mainly with 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. This intellectual challenge can be addressed, since the core and main aim of GECEM is to use new historical evidence from China and Europe during the early modern period to shed new light on big 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 positive echo 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, is the GDP the appropriate indicator to show the economic prosperity of a given country and the real wealth of social classes? Is not the P.P.P. (Purchase Power Parity) a better indicator to show the real economic growth of families and by extension of the country? Consumer behavior, trade networks that allowed the circulation of new goods, technology and people, and the cultural transfers inherent to these features, are the main indicators to analyse the economic development for Qing China and early modern Europe. Thus, the main aim of this project is to analyze for the period from 1680 to 1840 the socio-economic and cultural impact of the consumption of western products (of European and American origin) in China such as potato, tobacco, red wine, cotton and other luxury products, as well as the consumption of Chinese goods in Europe, mainly silk, tea and porcelain.

There are several explanations for the different models of economic growth in Europe and China, explaining why Europe developed faster in the first industrial revolution while China was left behind. The main explanation is because of the discovery of the Americas, new outposts, raw materials, and energy resources. Still, GECEM project will provide new insights to the discussion by measuring and evaluating new micro data about levels of consumption across different social groups. The use of GECEM database as 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. The study case of two city ports, Macao and Marseille is our entry point into this vital area of inquiry.

The understanding of the concept of diversity is key in GECEM project with the aim to eradicate the national myopias inherent to the construction of intellectual categories, and, in many cases, the prejudices that traditional scholarship still maintains. By traditional I mean the scholarship that continues to keep local and national history as its supreme narrative. Such narratives are in many instances linked with well-defined patriotic and nationalistic propaganda. Nowadays such nationalistic narratives are emerging in some western and eastern countries, despite the current global era we are witnessing. Potential examples are the US, China, Great Britain, some Latin American regions such as Venezuela with the implementation of protectionist policies and the lack of a global/international agenda. This somehow permeates the academic debate, giving room for a revival of national history. Such nationalistic histories can be seen in the ‘academic ecosystems’ of departments, faculties and universities of western and eastern countries. The lack of

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The reorganization of the research team is resulting very positive, as we have a unique group of professionals and academics with a strong commitment to achieve the academic goals of GECEM project. It is very important to mention the important role and contribution of GECEM team: the P.I. (prof. Manuel Perez Garcia), the administrative staff (Mrs. Marisol Vidales), the senior staff (prof. Bartolome Yun-Casalilla), the first PhD researcher (Ms. Lei Jin), the second PhD researcher (Mr. Guimel Hernandez), and the four PhD researcher (Mr. Sergio Serrano) with a very advanced level of his PhD dissertation which will be defended in next months. The postdoctoral fellow and third PhD researcher left the project in the first year. Briefly in the following lines, it will be described the main results achieved in the form of academic events, deliverables (publications), and others. An overview of the results is provided mentioning the milestones of GECEM project.
The milestones are as follows:

- July/2016 (1st month of GECEM): kick-off meeting of GECEM project at UPO to organize the work and plan of GECEM project, distribution of work packages and first draft of GECEM Database and GECEM website.
- September/2016 (3rd month of GECEM): launch of GECEM website designed by Marisol Vidales Bernal (administrative staff of GECEM).
- 1st GECEM Workshop November/2016 (5th month of GECEM): discussing in the workshop the main questions/hypothesis/sources of GECEM project which serve to implement GECEM Database.
- November/2016 (5th month of GECEM): signature between Manuel Perez (PI of GECEM) and Sara Crowley (editor in chief of Palgrave in Asia) for a new series Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History at the 1st GECEM Workshop (visit the link https://www.palgrave.com/de/series/15711). Manuel Perez is the editor in chief of the series.
- January/2017 (7th month): the 1st phase of recruitment of the GECEM team members was finalized, and a general meeting was hold at UPO to coordinate tasks and assigning the work packages.
- February / 2017 (8th month of GECEM): 2nd GECEM Workshop at UPO consisting on the presentation of the second draft of GECEM Database and the phases for its implementation by Manuel Perez and Sergio Serrano.
- April / 2017 (10th month of GECEM): GECEM Database first Alpha test of GECEM Database within the team according to each researcher working package. It consisted of a test of the first functional version of the database.
- November / 2017 (17th month of GECEM): delivering of GECEM PhD researchers (Lei Jin and Guimel Hernandez Garay) of the first chapter of their PhD dissertation and publication of their working papers in REPEC (repository of Economic History papers) https://ideas.repec.org/s/pab/wphaei.html
- October/November/December 2017 (16th, 17th, 18th month of GECEM): GECEM archive missions to collect 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) and browse the catalogue 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 in Open Access and edited by Manuel Perez Garcia and Lucio de Sousa (www.palgrave.com/de/book/9789811040528)

The summary of deliverables for the current reporting period consisted on Open Access publications such as articles in peer reviewed journals, working papers, GECEM newsletter, first GECEM book published at the Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, book chapters, and preparation of upcoming publications such as articles in peer reviewed journals which are under evaluation and the new monograph of prof. Bartolome Yun-Casalilla (GECEM senior staff) and

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

GECEM project examines perceptions and dialogues between China and Europe by analysing strategic geopolitical sites which fostered commerce, consumption and socioeconomic networks between China and Europe through a particular case study: Macau, connecting with South China, and Marseille in Mediterranean Europe from 1680 to 1840. Such concrete comparison might help to narrow the gap that some researchers have created when widely analysing differences between Asia and Europe without specific geographical and chronological delineation.

Specialists in the field of Global (Economic) History, as well as those dealing with the debate of the ‘great divergence’ has been merely preoccupied on vague comparisons between China and Europe, without substantial empirical evidence, to analyse the 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 GECEM project is merchants, as ‘vicarious consumers’, mediated in the introduction of new goods, leading to changes in consumer behaviour 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 working packages undertaken by GECEM researchers are based in 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 way results are being achieved during the action’s implementation, for this first phase, is primarily connected to the main hypothesis of GECEM project and the achievement of the final goals at the end of the project.

The novelty of this project lies in the use and comparison of Chinese and western sources such as probate-inventories and trade records, among the main sources to analyze. An interdisciplinary methodology is based on cross-referencing western and eastern historical sources through a multi-relational database, the new GECEM database, which for the current reporting period has reached its first phase of designing and implementation. Thus, the application of new technologies applied to economic history, as well as the dialogue with other disciplines such as computer science, economics, sinology, international relations, among others, is utterly relevant for this project and its application to solve and understand current issues on China-EU international relations.

The results of GECEM project will not only be relevant for historians. It will also serve to the community of social sciences such as sociologists, economists, geographers, etc. Beyond academic research, the impact and major effect of this project will serve to understand the Sino-European market integration and consumer behavior within an historical perspective, as well as designing new policy-making on EU-China foreign affairs. Within the framework of the progressive process of internationalization of higher education system, we believe that further knowledge of China in Europe, beyond traditional archetypes and stereotypes, is more than necessary in order to foster and strengthen scientific collaboration between China and Europe. Moreover, regarding the Chinese counterpart, the project will serve to contribute the awareness of historical relations between China and Europe, as well as for a better knowledge of the concept of Europe. The European Delegation in Beijing is serving as a major platform to diffuse our work outside academic boundaries.

Through the national diversity of the GECEM research staff (who originate from East Asia, Euro

Related information

Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top