Professor of History
Professor of History
Specialises in modern Chinese history, and the history of colonialism, and in particular of the British empire and its relations with China and the history of Shanghai (1843-1950s). Work in this field includes the books Britain in China (1999), Empire Made Me: An Englishman adrift in Shanghai (2003), and The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire, 1832-1914 (2011). My interest in the world of British colonialism more broadly underpins a volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire companion series that I edited on British communities across the worlds of formal and informal empire. I am also interested in cemeteries and photographs and their post-colonial lives, clipper ships, lighthouses and meteorology in China. My most recent books are Getting Stuck in for Shanghai: Putting the Kibosh on the Kaiser from the Bund (Penguin, 2014), and a volume co-edited with Jonathan J. Howlett, University of York: Britain and China, 1840-1970: Empire, Finance, and War.
I am a Director of the British Inter-university China Centre, have been a Co-Director of the AHRC-funded REACT Knowledge Exchange Hub, and led an ESRC-funded project, 'Colonialism in comparative perspective: Tianjin under nine flags' (2008-11). I direct the 'Hong Kong History project', and the 'Visualising China' initiative, and its underlying Historical Photographs of China digitisation programme. I also formely ran an AHRC-funded project on the history of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service.
I welcome proposals in any area of modern Chinese and East Asian history, in most areas of colonial history, but particularly in the history of Sino-Western relations, the Customs service, and the treaty port world: foreign society, politics or culture in China before the 1950s, its rise and its fall.
I am interested in supervising across a range of areas related to my research. Amongst PhD students supervised in the past are those now holding posts at: Exeter, York, Hong Kong Baptist, Nanyang Technnological, Shanghai Jiaotong and Wuhan universities, as well as the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and Trinity College Dublin. My current students include: