Research themes

Networks and Negotiations 

The history of empires and globalization has been indelibly shaped by the connections and entanglements between peoples and groups that grew, sustained and challenged their formation. In recent years historians have turned to the idea of networks to understand these connections and entanglements. Our researchers highlight how transnational and trans-imperial networks of lawyers, diplomats, journalists, engineers, agronomists, doctors, psychiatrists, and humanitarians have connected and facilitated political, economic and cultural exchanges among distant parts of the world at both imperial and global level. Our postgraduate students co-edited a Journal of World History special issue on ‘Networks in Imperial and Global History’, arguing for networked approaches that allow historians to bring metropole and colony into a single frame of analysis, thereby highlighting the complexity of the imperial system, where multiple “cores” and “peripheries,” with overlapping and interactive systems of institutions, organizations and discourses, existed in combination with each other. Our researchers have pursued this point, with Gajendra Singh’s current work being an investigation of networked communities of migrant Indian labourers across the Pacific and their connection to revolutionary movements at home and abroad. Silvia Espelt Bombin’s current research project studies peace-making as a door on to cultural exchanges and negotiations of power between Indians, Africans and several competing European colonial powers in the frontier territories located in the Guianas and Brazilian Amazon. Vivienne Xiangwe Guo focuses on social and intellectual histories of Republican-era China, especially the many political networks, societies and groups that operated outside the aegis of the Nationalist Party and the Communist Party. She is currently researching networks of Chinese elite women in wartime China, and exchanges of ideas and political collaborations between warlords and the intelligentsia for state-making in China, tracing the circulation of ideas and networks beyond regional-national borders. Meanwhile, Hao Gao researches diplomatic history between British and Chinese empires in early processes of global interconnectedness, highlighting the mutual understandings and misunderstandings that characterised negotiations between Britain and China from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century.