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Conference Rationale

"Goods from the East: Trading Eurasia 1600-1830" addresses the impact of Asia’s manufactured and luxury products on Europe’s industrial and consumer culture. Long-distance seaborne trade organised through East India Companies and many private traders transformed a formerly sporadic trade in oriental luxuries into a systematic commerce in Asian export ware. This trade had a much greater impact on European economic and cultural life than we had once thought.

Traditionally, the production, distribution and consumption of Asian goods for European markets have been studied as separate historiographical areas. This major international conference brings together some thirty scholars from across the globe who are researching Europe’s trade in and consumption of goods from China, India and Southeast Asia over the period. By connecting a number of different narratives, the conference will foreground new perspectives on the history of early modern global trade and the consumer cultures this generated.

The conference is part of the research project “Europe’s Asian Centuries: Trading Eurasia 1600-1830” based at the University of Warwick, funded by the European Research Council and led by Professor Maxine Berg. For more information about the themes and methodologies of our project click here.

The conference has been divided into three broad areas:

1. Production, trade, types and qualities of Asian goods

The first three panels will look at the production and trade of specific Asian goods with regard to the material and imagined qualities they possessed. One panel will focus on goods from India and explore the types, qualities and trade of textiles, indigo and diamonds. The next panel will look at Chinese production and trade of enamel wares and porcelain. The third and final panel investigates the European tea trade with regard to types and qualities traded. (Papers to be inserted).

2. Retail & Consumption

A second theme looks at the distribution and consumption of Asian goods in different corners of Europe with regard to the question of how they were sold, how demand was grown and met and the affect “goods from the East” had on European retail markets at the time. (Papers to be inserted).

3. Private Trade - Goods & Networks

The final panel focuses on the goods and actors involved in private trade. Participants will discuss how informal networks and channels for distribution played a crucial role in shaping European markets for Asian goods. How did private trade differ from and relate to the Company trade and what kind of goods were usually traded on private account? (Papers to be inserted).