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Personal profile

Research interests

Historian of modern China, focusing on the late Qing to the Republican period, an era of dramatic change in China as it was reluctantly forced to open up to foreign trade, ideas and technology. Principal interests are in Chinese modernisation and its engagement in globalisation from the 19th century onwards, in particular the role of the foreign-run Chinese Maritime Customs Service, trade networks, the creation of the Chinese Postal Service, and Chinese newspapers in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Her works include Reading Shenbao: Nationalism, Consumerism, and Individuality in China 1919-37, and co-edited volume Print, Profit and Perception: Ideas, Information and Knowledge in Chinese Societies, 1895-1949.

In her recently published article, ‘China’s Debut at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 and the Forgotten Port Catalogues’ (2022), she examined the work of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service and trade culture at treaty ports though engaging with an important and yet forgotten publication entitled Port Catalogues of the Chinese Maritime Customs’ Collection at the Austro-Hungarian Universal Exhibition, Vienna, 1873. This publication catalogued and categorised the key specimens and commodities coming out of China. Her new monograph, entitled The Making of China’s Post Office: Sovereignty, Modernization, and the Connection of a Nation is published by Harvard University Press Asia Center in February 2024.