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The Introduction outlines the significance of the book within the context three fields of scholarship: British imperialism in China, law within the British Empire and Borderland studies. It provides an introduction to the British imperial presence in Xinjiang and Yunnan, an explanation of sources used and an outline of the chapters of the book.

in Law across imperial borders
Law between semicolonial China and the Raj

The fourth chapter examines the establishment of extraterritorial jurisdiction in Xinjiang (1880–1918). There, no treaty existed defining consular rights in the province. As a result, the consular official George Macartney carved out his rights through adjudicating Sino-British cases and by diplomatic negotiation with the Chinese authorities. As Macartney worked for the Indian government and, after 1908, was also a China consular official, he therefore bridged the colonial and semicolonial world. From 1918, his legal powers were derived from consular frameworks, but he could apply colonial laws from British India. He also sent suspects and convicts to India, creating an administrative and judicial fusion between the consular and colonial system.

in Law across imperial borders

This chapter focuses closely on the origins of the Opium War, particularly its immediate trigger(s).The chapter examines how the Sino-British opium trade and its related issues were imagined and disputed in the immediate run-up to the First Anglo-Chinese War. It reveals that although the opium trade was closely interwoven with the ensuing confrontations, the debates on the subjects of opium, crisis and war can each be examined in its own right. Moreover, despite the fact that, in April 1840, the Whig government won the vote on its motion for war by only a small majority, the actual inclination to vigorous invention in the dispute with China was in fact greater than the voting results appear to indicate.

in Creating the Opium War
British consuls and colonial connections on China’s western frontiers, 1880–1943

This book tells the story of British imperial agents and their legal powers on the British-Chinese frontiers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It offers new perspectives on the British presence in Yunnan and Xinjiang in western China and the legal connections to the British colonies of India and Burma. It examines how the mobility of people across borders forced consuls to adapt and shape law to accommodate them. Salt and opium smugglers, Indian and Afghan traders, and itinerant local populations exposed the jurisdictional gaps between consular and colonial authority. Local and transfrontier mobility defined and shaped British jurisdiction across the frontier in complex ways. It argues that frontier consular agents played key roles in creating forms of transfrontier legal authority in order to govern these migratory communities. Consular legal practices coexisted alongside, and often took advantage of, other local customs and legal structures. The incorporation of indigenous elites, customary law and Chinese authority was a distinctive feature of frontier administration, with mediation an important element of establishing British authority in a contested legal environment. The book is essential reading for historians of China, the British Empire, and socio-legal historians interested in the role of law in shaping semicolonial and colonial societies.

This chapter explores some important but understudied aspects of the Macartney diplomatic mission to China. Unlike previous research that focused on the controversy of kowtow or the embassy’s political implications, this chapter investigates the underlying contention among the embassy members on the transactions and outcome of the mission. By comparing accounts left by different orders of men who took part in the embassy, it shows that some key facts were selectively documented or ignored, particularly by the leaders of the embassy, in order to suit the author’s own needs and prejudices. Although it is understandable that all observers have their own perspectives, it is worth noting that some of the key perceptions of the embassy’s members were at least partly constructed to justify certain standpoints and actions of the authors of them, rather than being entirely objective observations as they might appeared to be.

in Creating the Opium War
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People crossing the frontier, 1911–25

The second chapter demonstrates how the movement of different people, such as migrant labourers and itinerant domiciled subjects, shaped colonial and extraterritorial law (1911–25). Consuls petitioned for greater powers of deportation to remove unwanted Indian migrants across the frontier. Consuls also petitioned the metropolitan, Indian and China consular authorities to enable Burmese officers to exercise colonial law across borders by virtue of extraterritoriality. This chapter is therefore concerned with the relationship between borders, colonial law and extraterritoriality.

in Law across imperial borders
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This chapter examines public reactions to the Napier incident and the discussion about Britain’s China policy within the British community in China in the mid-1830s. This period has received much less attention than the Napier incident itself and the immediate causes of the Opium War. Based on popular publications available in Canton in this period, the chapter investigates the debate over the cause of Lord Napier’s failure, including the ‘show of force’ theory as well as other ‘minor’ voices. It reveals that, although ‘show of force’ was the most prominent attitude at the time, the mid-1830s should be considered as a period of confused thinking with regard to Britain’s China policy, rather than a clear stage in the preparations for an open war.

in Creating the Opium War
Transfrontier salt and opium, 1904–11

The first chapter traces the establishment of British authority (1899–1911). As the provisions of the treaties were key legal documents, I show how the Tengyue consuls understood the rights of British and Chinese smugglers in two key transfrontier trades: salt and opium. The movement of illicit goods was integral for the frontier economy and local populations. Tengyue consuls reimagined consular rights based on their understanding of these local considerations and imperial policy. The chapter explores two key smuggling cases to show how consuls were mediators amongst a number of different British colonial and consular authorities in London, India, Burma and China on legal rights. The chapter is therefore concerned with how consuls understood the overlapping frameworks and tensions of different layers of law: Sino-British treaties, Burmese territorial law and extraterritoriality

in Law across imperial borders

The German social democratic periodical Der Wahre Jacob waged a near-constant battle against the conservative establishment in the course of its five decades of existence. Opposing the Wilhelmine culture of militarism and Weltpolitik, and supportive of international labour, it nonetheless betrayed a number of ambiguous positions when it came to matters of race and gender. While Imperial Germany’s coercive and brutal tactics in colonial warfare were roundly condemned, it was the actions of the British and the French that came in for particular attention. Moreover, the very principle of colonialism and imperialism was not criticised effectively; merely the means by which the Great Powers exercised their – apparently rightful – imperial power. The chapter explores Der Wahre Jacob’s engagement with such issues between its foundation and the beginning of the First World War.

in Comic empires
No more ‘Australia for the White Man’

This chapter observes the changes in Australian attitudes to colonialism through the prism of the Bulletin and The Australian in the 1960s. When Sir Frank Packer took over the magazine in 1961, he made Donald Horne editor, whose first move was to take ‘Australia for the White Man’ off the banner. This was not merely cosmetic: Horne was determined to remake the symbolic organ of White Australian cultural nationalism in a new internationalist way. While Horne’s politics were Cold War conservative, he was a maverick, hiring closet communist Les Tanner to edit the cartoons and images. Tanner led a new generation of progressive cartoonists who came to dominate Australian newspapers and magazines from the 1960s. Tanner and his protégés rather abruptly lifted the national tradition from its imperialist and racist mode, turning politically and culturally away from Britain and empire to a more modern and liberal (even socialist) nationalism. When Rupert Murdoch set up The Australian in 1964 with Bruce Petty as cartoonist it, too, was culturally and politically anti-establishment for a decade. Petty was consciously decolonialising even before the anti-Vietnam movement, and there’s a clear argument that a group of cartoonists were among the leaders of this social and political change.

in Comic empires