The 106th Tobuken-Asnet Seminar "Invisible women: social relations and power in 18th century Canton"

【Date】  Dec 4, 2014 (Thu) 5:00-6:00 p.m.

【Venue】  negotiationGround Floor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

【Speaker】  Lisa Hellman (Visiting Scholar, The University of Tokyo)

【Title】 Invisible women: social relations and power in 18th century Canton

【Commentator】 (Under the negotiation ....)

Canton was throughout the 18th century an important centre for global trade. But all this trade took place in the small foreign quarters, which were only a few kilometres long and wide. Here, many different foreign nationalities had to cooperate, with each other and with the Chinese. But in the standard description of Canton, this part of the city was exclusively male. According to Chinese law, no foreign women could enter Canton, and the foreign traders were not allowed to met Chinese women. However, studying 18th century Chinese and foreign sources, it becomes apparent that the women of Canton were not only present, but active in the trade, and important in order to understand this intercultural contact. The women of Canton have almost disappeared in the mists of time, but by making them the focus it is possible to discuss the larger question of the power structures of the foreign trade. Women, and the ideas of women, were used by the Chinese officials to control the foreigners. Consequently, women and the relations to them became important for the foreigners in turn. Therefore, by bringing out the invisble women of this history, we get a new picture of everyday life and power struggles in 18th century Canton.

※ The lecture will be in English.