Guanmian Xu 徐冠勉 (Victor) works on the history of taste and commodities in the early modern period. His Ph.D. project, “A Taste of Global History: Chinese Gustatory Revolutions and the Emergence of the Modern World, 1300-1800” (2017-2021), is generously sponsored by the Ph.D. fellowship of the Hulsewé-Wazniewski Foundation in Leiden. It focuses on how and why two important Indian Ocean things (pepper and sea cucumbers) came into Chinese taste and made transformative influences on the global connections since the Mongol conquest. It contends, among others, that, to global history, not only European taste matters.
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Anne Gerritsen and Dr. Fan Lin
Guanmian (Victor) has two master degrees from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Leiden University. The M.Phil. thesis in Hong Kong, entitled “Sweetness and Chaozhou: Construction of Tropical Commodity Chains on the Early Modern China Coast, 1600s-1800s”, explores the connections between the sweet culture of Jiangnan and the expansion of Chaozhou trading networks on the China Seas.
He came to Leiden in 2015 and joined the Cosmopolis program in the Institute for History. By reading Dutch rural archives preserved in Jakarta, his M.A. thesis in Leiden investigates the emergence of Javanese-Chinese sugar plantations in the early modern Dutch Empire, and proposes an ignored origin of Asian model of plantations vis-à-vis the contemporary slave plantations in the Atlantic World. Its field work report won the LISF Prize 2018 from Leiden University Fund (LUF). It is currently under revisions to be a book to be published in Leiden University Press under a tentative title: “Monsoon Plantations: Batavia Sugar and the Early Modern World, 1630-1800”.
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