Land, sea, and divergences: China and the European powers in the 18th century and after

Date: 2018-01-17

Time: 18:00 - 19:00

Address: Lilla Frescativägen 4A Stockholm

Venue: The Beijer Hall

Open Academy Lecture by Linda Colley, Princeton University, USA & Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study.

In his influential and controversial work THE GREAT DIVERGENCE: CHINA, EUROPE, AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD ECONOMY Kenneth Pomeranz argued that no part of the globe was necessarily headed for an industrial breakthrough before 1800, and that the 18th century world remained rather one of “surprising resemblances”. In this lecture, Linda Colley examines this thesis through the lens of the history of war, and especially naval war. In the 1750s, both China and the prime European powers engaged in massive, long distance conflicts. To this extent, this decade actually witnessed a great convergence. But in the case of China, the warfare involved was purely overland. The warfare engaged in by the main European powers by contrast involved large fighting navies as well as overland armies. How far does the European and especially British investment in naval power at this time lie at the root of the diverging economic and technological success of these sectors of the globe? And how useful anyway is this notion of a divergence between East and West?

Linda Colley is the Shelby M.C.Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University, but has lived a transatlantic existence. Born in the UK, she earned her BA from Bristol University, and her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. Teaching at the latter institution until 1981, she then moved to Yale where she became a University Professor. From 1997-2003, she was a Research Professor at L.S.E, and moved to her present position in 2003. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature; and was made a C.B.E. in the UK for her services to history. She holds five Honorary Degrees. Her books include In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-1760 (1982) Namier (1988), Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (1992), which won the Wolfson Prize, Captives: Britain, Empire and World 1600-1850 (2002), The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (2006), which was named one of the ten best non-fiction books of the year by the New York Times, and Acts of Union and Disunion (2014). The latter was based on fifteen lectures she delivered on BBC Radio 4 in advance of the referenda in the UK on Scottish independence and BREXIT. She writes occasionally for the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books and the Financial Times. Professor Colley currently holds a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Senior Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study.

The lecture is free of charge and open to the public. Registration is not needed.