Graduate Research Seminar

On Monday 16 November Ghassin Moazzin (PhD in eastern and Middle Asian Studies) will deliver the third of this term's Graduate Research Seminarswith a talk entitled "Networks of Capital: German Bankers and the Financial Internationalisation of China (1885-1919)."

My dissertation examines the role foreign and specifically German bankers played in the history of modern globalisation in China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By following the history of the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (DAB, Chinese: 德華銀行) during the last two decades of the Qing dynasty and the early years of the Chinese republic, I aim to show how the interaction between foreign bankers and Chinese officials, bankers and merchants led to the rapid internationalization of Chinese state finance and the Chinese banking sector on the China coast. Unlike the common narrative that depicts foreign banks in modern China as mere manifestations of foreign imperialism, my dissertation attempts to demonstrate that foreign banks like the DAB and the transnational networks it built with Chinese actors provided the financial infrastructure that made modern globalisation in China possible. I stress the importance of Chinese agency for the operation of foreign banks in China’s treaty ports and show that the interaction between foreign bankers and Chinese actors was made up as much of cooperation as of conflict and competition.

At the same time, my dissertation demonstrates that economic globalisation did not only foster transnational cooperation and interdependence but could also fuel tension and conflict between transnational elites open to using the new opportunities globalisation provided and national institutions and interest groups that were in favour of economic autarky. Throughout my dissertation I argue that the DAB and other foreign banks played an important role in integrating China into the global economy through processes of conflict, cooperation and competition with both Chinese and foreign actors. An understanding of the role international financial institutions like the DAB played in this process does not only help us understand the history of globalisation in China at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries but is also important if we wish to understand China’s current engagement with global financial markets, public debt and foreign businesses.

The graduate research seminar provides an opportunity for our graduate students and research fellows to discuss their work before an astute and very friendly audience. Because this mixed audience includes not only expert insiders, but also intelligent and interested outsiders, this is also an opportunity for speakers to hone their communicative skills, and for the rest of us to be exposed to unfamiliar problems, methodologies and theories.

Meetings begin at 12:45 in the Senior Combination Room, where a free buffet lunch is provided. The speakers kick off at 1:00, and finish by 1:30, giving us a quarter of an hour for questions and discussion.