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Photo of Dr Hao Gao

Dr Hao Gao

Senior Lecturer in Imperial and Global History

5243

01392 725243

I am a historian of British imperialism in Asia, China in global history, particularly the encounters between the British and the Chinese empires in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I am generally interested in exploring the mutual understandings and misunderstandings between China and the West in the early processes of globalisation.

My monograph Creating the Opium War: British Imperial Attitudes towards China, 1792-1840  examines British perceptions of and attitudes towards China during their encounters from the Macartney embassy to the outbreak of the Opium War. It makes the first attempt to bring together the political history of Sino-western relations and cultural studies of British representations of China, as a new way of connecting 'top-down' international history with 'bottom-up' global history. The book adds a new dimension to explain the origins of the Opium War, which arguably reshaped Sino-western relations in the modern age.

In addition to my book, I have published peer-reviewed research articles in both English and Chinese journals, including HistoryHistorical Research, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, and Britain and the World.

Born and raised in China, I have been trained as a historian in both British and Chinese academia. I studied in Peking University before I came to the UK. I completed my PhD in University of Edinburgh. I joined University of Exeter in 2015 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. I currently serve as the University's Academic Director for the UK-China Humanties Alliance (UKCHA), with Exeter as the Lead University on the UK side.

 

 

Research interests

My monograph Creating the Opium War: British Imperial Attitudes towards China, 1792-1840 (MUP: Studies in Imperialism series, 2020) examines British perceptions of and attitudes towards China during their encounters from the Macartney embassy to the outbreak of the Opium War. Focusing on a deeply consequential period, the importance of which has recently been compared with that of American and French Revolutions, this research makes the first attempt to bring together the political history of Sino-western relations and cultural studies of British representations of China. By examing a wealth of primary materials, some in more detail than ever before, my study reveals how the idea of war against China was created out of changing British perceptions of the country. Connecting 'top-down' international history with 'bottom-up' global history, it provides a new way of explaining the origins of the Opium War, which arguably reshaped Sino-western relations in the modern age.

In addition to my book, I have published peer-reviewed research articles in both English and Chinese journals, including HistoryHistorical Research, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, and Britain and the World.

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise students who wish to study topics which broadly correlate with my research and teaching interests.

Research students

Current PhD students:

Yuhei Hasegawa (co-supervised with Prof Richard Toye), 'A political and intellectual biography of Leopold Amery'

 

External impact and engagement

I was a special correspondent on Scottish independence referendum for Hong Kong Economic Journal (Xinbao Caijing Xinwen), one of Hong Kong's leading newspapers.

Contribution to discipline

I directed and contributed to an online project on the history of Sino-British cultural exchange for the Academy of Chinese Studies, Hong Kong.

I was invited to advise on Gale's database 'China from Empire to Republic' and have published an introductory essay online.

Media

With a keen interest in East-West communication, I have experience promoting mutual understandings between China and the West, especially via sports:

I was a press supervisor of the Main Press Centre (MPC), Beijing Olympic Games 2008.

I started China's first column in which western culture and English language are introduced and taught via sports.  

I acted as an interpreter and programme facilitator for several world-class athletes (mainly NBA basketball players, e.g. Shaquille O'Neal) when they visited China.

 

Biography

Born and raised in China, I have been trained as a historian in both British and Chinese academia. I studied in Peking University before I came to the UK in 2009. I completed my PhD in University of Edinburgh in 2013. I was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in University of Sussex and then in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh. I joined the University of Exeter in 2015 as Lecturer in Imperial and Global History. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. I currently serve as the University's Academic Director for the UK-China Humanties Alliance (UKCHA), with Exeter as the Lead University on the UK side.