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University of Warwick awarded £1.4 million to explore first global trade shift

The University of Warwick has been awarded £1.4 million to explore the impact of the first great global trade shift of luxury goods from Asia to Europe.

The prestigious award from the European Research Council (ERC) will fund a group of researchers to use industrial archives, private collections and major museum collections from across the world to investigate trade in the period 1600-1830, a time which stimulated the European Industrial Revolution.

The money will pay for three postdoctoral fellows, a PhD student and a museum consultant to work on the four-year project. In particular they will focus on the records of the East India companies, based in England, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Sweden.

This is only the third ERC funding grant to be awarded to the University of Warwick and the first one to be awarded to Humanities.

Lead researcher Professor Maxine Berg, Director of the Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, said: “The period we are looking at is the time when the Asian trading world provided leading luxury ceramics, textiles and metal goods to Europe.  This long-distance trade stimulated new European quality goods, and sparked the Industrial Revolution.  Asia during the 19th Century lost its industries to Europe.

“Now in the 21st Century we have seen a new Asian ascendancy and Europe has lost many of these industries back to Asia. For example, a strong British brand like Wedgwood is now being produced in South East Asia. This project seeks to understand Europe’s new challenge of Asia by charting the history of that first global shift between the pre-modern and modern worlds.”

The project , called 'Europe's Asian Centuries:  Trading Eurasia 1600-1830' will start in September 2010 and the postdoctoral positions are currently being advertised. For more details visit

For more details about the Global History and Culture Centre at the University of Warwick, visit 

Notes to editors
For more details please contact Kelly Parkes-Harrison, Communications Officer, University of Warwick,, 07824 540863, 02476 150483/574255