Simon C. Partner (Duke University)


From 13:30
to 15:00
From 13:30
to 15:00


This course will explore the increasingly connected world of the nineteenth century through an examination of the colonial, semi-colonial, and treaty port enclaves of South Asia and East Asia and their connections to the Euro-American maritime world. While the scope of the class will be global, the major focus will be on Bombay, Shanghai, London, and Yokohama. We will also explore the port of Venice and its history. Students will explore the histories of individual ports, and they will also explore the complex connections created by the movement of goods, people and ideas. Through the lens of the port cities, students will explore fundamental questions such as:

  • What is colonialism? How does it affect both colonizer and colonized?
  • What are the differences between colonial and semi-colonial, formal and informal empire?
  • How did port cities contribute to the broader transformations of nineteenth-century society?
  • How did local populations respond to the opportunities and threats represented by port cities?
  • How did the development of maritime trade affect local and national economies, social structures, cultural mores, and intellectual trends?

Goals of the class:

  • Introduce students to the history and historiography of South Asian and East Asian trade and maritime commerce
  • Gain theoretical understanding of issues in trade, colonialism, economic development, cultural transmission, and modernization
  • Develop understanding of common themes in South Asian and East Asian history, colonial history, and global history
  • Develop skills in the interpretation of primary source materials, including visual, material, published, manuscript, ephemera, etc.
  • Develop skills in digital humanities through the creation of a class web site


Teaching method

There will be weekly assigned readings (about 30 pages per week), which students are expected to read and discuss.

Based on on-site fieldwork, each student will prepare a brief, multimedia presentation on the port of Venice.

Using a diary, letters, newspaper, yearbook, or collection of images (must be contextualized), each student will prepare a report relating a primary source to one or more of the themes in the class. Primary sources and links will be available on the class web site, or students can find their own sources.

Using sources available on the internet, via their home university libraries, and on the course web site, each student will prepare a research project on a port city of her or his choice. Research papers will use both primary and secondary sources. Format may be paper- or web-based.


Grades will be based on the following:

  • Venice report: 10% of grade
  • Primary source project: 20% of grade
  • Research project: 40% of grade
  • Class participation: 30% of grade. Your participation grade will assess your reading of the weekly assigned materials. The only way I know you have read these materials is if you participate actively in discussion. If you are not a participator, you can alternatively provide me with written summaries of each week’s reading(s).


Syllabus & Readings

Week One: Week of February 26. Overview

Class 1:


Image of the Day

Discussion: Port cities we have known

Class 2:

Image of the Day

Reading and Discussion: Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, extract from Chapter 6 (“Cities”), pages 275-297

Lecture and Discussion: Overview

Week 2: Week of March 5. The Treaty Port System

Class 3:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Treaty of Nanking, 1843. Read the treaty (p.3597-9), glance through the rest.

Secondary Source: Bickers, Robert A., and Isabella Jackson, eds. “Introduction” in Treaty Ports in Modern China: Law, Land and Power. London: Routledge, 2016, p.1-18

Optional additional reading:

  • Auslin, “The Style and Substance of Treaty-Making” in Negotiating Imperialism, p.11-33
  • Jurgen Osterhammel, “Britain and China, 1842-1914” in The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume 3, (1999), p.147-169
  • Cassel, P. K. (2012). “Exporting Extraterritoriality: The Evolution of Jurisdiction over Foreigners in Japan from the “Expulsion Edict” to the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Tianjin” in Grounds of judgment: extraterritoriality and imperial power in nineteenth-century China and Japan. Oxford; New York, Oxford University Press., p.85-114
  • Osterhammel, J. (1986). “Semi-Colonialism and Informal Empire in Twentieth Century China: Towards a Framework of Analysis” in Imperialism and After: Continuities and Discontinuities. W. J. Mommsen and J. Osterhammel. London, Allen and Unwin: 290-314.

Class 4:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Treaty between the United States of America and the Japanese Empire (p.1-10)

Lecture and Discussion: The Treaty Port System

Week 3: Week of March 12. Merchants and Adventurers

Class 5:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Bombay, 1873 Guide

Secondary Source: Dwijendra Tripathi, “The Tatas” in Business Houses in Western India, p.55-72

Optional additional readings

  • Farooqui, “Bombay and the Trade in Malwa Opium”, in Opium City: The Making of Early Victorian Bombay, p.17-43
  • Banerjee, “Indian Economic Enterprise” in Calcutta and its Hinterland, p.139-191
  • Makimura, “The Merchants of Yokohama”, in The Silk Road at Yokohama: A History of the Economic Relationships between Yokohama, the Kanto region, and the World through the Japanese Silk Industry in the Nineteenth Century, p.82-131
  • Hao, Y. P. (1970). "A "New Class" in China's Treaty Ports: The Rise of the Comprador-Merchants." The Business History Review 44(4): p.446-459.
  • Hao, “Chen Kuan-Ying: The Comprador as Reformer” in Journal of Asian Studies, 29:1, 1969, p.15-22

Class 6:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Hall, F. (1992). Japan through American eyes : the journal of Francis Hall, Kanagawa and Yokohama, 1859-1866. Princeton N.J, Princeton University Press. July 18-August 21, 1860

Lecture and Discussion: Merchants and Adventurers

Week 4: Week of March 19. Foreign Communities

Class 7:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Clark, “Bombay Yacht Club in 1856”

Secondary Source: Pearson, “Victorian Calcutta”, in Eastern Interlude: A Social History of the European Community in Calcutta (1933), p.213-238

Optional additional reading:

  • Bickers, R. (1998), "Shanghailanders: the formation and identity of the British settler community in Shanghai, 1843-1937." Past & Present: 161, p.1-25
  • Cortazzi, “Yokohama: Frontier Town”, Asian Affairs, Vol. 17:1, 1986, p.3-17
  • Hoare, J. E. (1994). Japan's treaty ports and foreign settlements: the uninvited guests, 1858-1899. Folkestone, Kent, Japan Library. Chapter 2, p.18-51
  • Klaus Dittrich 2016 “Europeans and Americans in Korea, 1882–1910: A Bourgeois and Translocal Community”. Itinerario 40:1, April, pp 3 – 28.

Class 8:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Dyce, “My Fellow Residents” in Shanghai Reminiscences, p.39-52

Lecture and Discussion: Foreign Communities

Week 5: Week of March 26. Sojourners and Migrants

Class 9:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Clark, “The Manila Cock-Pit, in Bamboo Town” in Sketches in and Around Shanghai (1894), p.34-37

Secondary Source: Betta, C. (2000).” Marginal Westerners in Shanghai: the Baghdadi Jewish community, 1845-1931” in New frontiers: imperialism's new communities in East Asia, 1842-1953. R. Bickers and C. Henriot. Manchester, Manchester University Press: p.38-55.

Optional additional readings:

  • Mark Strecker, “Shanghaid!” in Shanghaiing Sailors: A Maritime History of Forced Labor, 1849-1915, p.104-122
  • Botsman, D. V. (2011). "Freedom without Slavery? "Coolies," Prostitutes, and Outcastes in Meiji Japan's "Emancipation Moment"." In The American Historical Review 116(5), p.1323-1347.
  • Rogaski, R. (1997). "Beyond Benevolence: A Confucian Women's Shelter in Treaty-Port China" in Journal of Women's History 8(4), p.54-90.
  • Clare Anderson, “George Morgan” in Subaltern Lives: Biographies of Colonialism in the Indian Ocean World, 1790-1920, p.57-92

Class 10:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: “Prisons” in Statistical abstract relating to British India from 1860 to 1869 (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1870)

Lecture and Discussion: Sojourners and Migrants

Week 6: Week of April 2


Week 7: Week of April 9. Economic Impacts

Class 11

Image of the Day

Primary Source:

Secondary Source: Bun, “Mapping the Hinterland: Treaty Ports and Regional Analysis in Modern China”, in Remapping China: Fissures in Historical Terrain, p.181-193

Optional additional reading:

  • Murphey, R. (1970). “The Treaty Ports and China's Modernization: What Went Wrong?” Michigan Papers in Chinese Studies, No. 7, p. 1-73
  • Banerjee, “The Satellite Towns” in Calcutta and its Hinterland, p.70-110

Class 12

Image of the Day

Primary Source:

Lecture and Discussion: Economic Impacts

Week 8: Week of April 16. Student Presentations

Class 13

Presentations: Venice projects

Class 14

Presentations: Primary source projects

Week 9: Week of April 23. Visual Cultures

Class 15

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Japan Herald, 19th September 1863

Secondary Source: Chia-Ling Yang, “The crisis of the real: portraiture and photography in late nineteenth century Shanghai” in Jennifer Purtle and Hans Bjarne Thomson, eds. (2009). Looking modern: East Asian visual culture from treaty ports to World War II, p.20-33

Optional additional reading:

  • Luke Gartlan, “Types or Costumes? Refraining Early Yokohama Photography” in Visual Resources, 22:3, p.239-263
  • Yeh, “Visual Politics and Shanghai Glamor” in Shanghai Splendor: Economic Sentiments and the Making of Modern China, 1843-1949, p.51-78
  • Filipa Vicente, “A Photograph of Four Orientalists (Bombay, 1885): Knowledge Production, Religious Identities, and the Negotiation of Invisible Conflicts, in Journal of the Economic and
  • Social History of the Orient 55 (2012), p.603-636

Class 16

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Bombay City Map, 1893

Lecture and Discussion: Visual Cultures

Week 10: Week of April 30. Architecture and Urban Space

Class 17:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Joseph Conrad, Chance, Chapter 1

Secondary Source: Marinelli, Maurizio. “An Italian ‘Neighborhood’ in Tianjin: Little Italy or Colonial Space?” in Goodman, B. and D. S. G. Goodman (2012), Twentieth-century colonialism and China : localities, the everyday and the world, p.92-107

Optional additional reading:

  • Taylor, J. E. (2002). "The bund: Littoral space of empire in the treaty ports of East Asia." Social History 27(2): 125-142.
  • Carola Hein, “Port Cityscapes: A networked analysis of the built environment” in Hein, Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks, p.1-25
  • Jonathan Farris, “Treaty Ports of China: Dynamics of Global and Local in the West’s Architectural Presence” in Hein, Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks, p.1116-137

Class 18

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Ernest Satow Diary, 1862

Lecture and Discussion: Architecture and Urban Space

Week 11: Week of May 7. Hygiene and Public Health

Class 19:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: An Execution, in Jephson and Elmhurst, Our Life in Japan (1869)

Secondary Source: Rogaski, R. (2000). Hygienic Modernity in Tianjin in Remaking the Chinese City: modernity and national identity, 1900-1950. J. Esherick. Honolulu, University of Hawaiʻi Press, p.30-46.

Optional additional reading:

  • Kim, J.-R. (2013). "The Borderline of 'Empire': Japanese Maritime Quarantine in Busan c.1876-1910." Medical History 57(2): 226-248.
  • Fuess, H. (2014). "Informal Imperialism and the 1879 "Hesperia" Incident: Containing Cholera and Challenging Extraterritoriality in Japan." Japan Review(27): 103-140.
  • Hamish Ion, “Sexual Imperialism on the China Station during the Meiji Restoration: The Control of Smallpox and Syphilis at Yokohama, 1868–1871” in The International History Review, 31:4, p.711-739
  • Mridulla Ramanna, “Sanitary Policy” in Western Medicine and Public Health in Colonial Bombay, p.83-142

Class 20:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: “Camp Life” in Poyntz, Per Mare Per Terram (1892)

Lecture and Discussion: Hygiene and Public Health

Week 12: Week of May 14. Bodies, Sex, and Intimacy

Class 21:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: China Directory, Various Years

Secondary Source: Christian Henriot, “Lives of Splendor and Wretchedness” in Henriot, C. (2001). Prostitution and sexuality in Shanghai : a social history, 1849-1949. Cambridge, UK ; New York, Cambridge University Press, p.47-72

Optional additional reading:

  • Scully, E. P. (1998). "Prostitution as Privilege: The ‘American Girl’ of Treaty-Port Shanghai, 1860–1937." The International History Review 20(4), p.855-883.
  • Susan Burns, “Bodies and Borders: Syphilis, Prostitution and the Nation in Japan, 1860-1890”, in US-Japan Women’s Journal, 15 (1998), p.3-30
  • Gary Leupp, “Interracial Intimacy in the Treaty Ports, 1854-68” in Leupp, Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900, p.144-156

Class 22:

Image of the Day

Primary Source: Willis, “Prostitution in Japan” (1867)

Lecture and Discussion: Bodies, Sex, and Intimacy

Week 13: Week of May 21. Student Presentations

Class 23

Presentations: Final projects

Class 24

Presentations: Final projects

Week 14: Week of May 28

Exam week



All assigned readings will be on the course web platform (Moodle).

Secondary Sources on Individual Port Cities

Marie-Claire Bergere, Shanghai: China’s Gateway to Modernity

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Global Shanghai: A History in Fragments

Yuzo Kato, Yokohama Past and Present

Preeti Chopra, A Joint Enterprise: Indian Elites and the Making of British Bombay

Alexander Tulloch, The Story of Liverpool

Liza Picard, Victorian London

Pinki Virani, Once was Bombay

Gillian Tindall: City of Gold: The Biography of Bombay

Margaret Plant: Venice, Fragile City

R.J.B. Bosworth: Italian Venice: A History

Other resources:

Virtual Shanghai:

Visualizing Cultures:

Mumbai Pages:


The Digital South Asia Library

Old Maps of Mumbai:

Photographs of Western India:

The History of London:

Port Cities:

London Metropolitan Archives:



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fax:+39 041 2719510

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