Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Columbia University
Objects of Taste and Knowledge: Chinese Furniture between London, Batavia, and Canton in the Long Eighteenth Century

My dissertation examines the interaction between Europeans and Chinese in the material culture of export Chinese furniture in Canton, Batavia, and Britain during the long eighteenth century. Specifically, it concerns the transmission of cultural and technical knowledge through the production and consumption of furniture and the plural representations of China resultant from such transmission. By examining the Chippendale-style "Chinese bookcase" in Britain, the "Chinese cabinet" of Dutch colonials in Batavia, and the vernacular display cabinets of provincial Canton, my project goes beyond previous scholarship's focus on the exotic chinoiserie to show how Europeans and Chinese co-produced and co-domesticated "Chinese-ness" in heterogeneous ways by mixing exotic and familiar cultural elements. It also replaces the East-West binary with multiple vectors of interest and interaction occurring triangularly between three important trading zones. Following the trajectory of export furniture highlights the networks between dispersed artisans, merchants, and consumers, who formed a complex web of connections that played an important role in the formation of the early modern global trade. By locating its subject matter at the intersection between the local and the global, therefore, my dissertation will reconfigure the transmission and trans-culturation of taste and knowledge through the movement of objects and people in the long eighteenth-century world.