Author: Melissa Macauley
China has conventionally been considered a land empire whose lack of maritime and colonial reach contributed to its economic decline after the mid-18th century.
“Distant Shores” challenges this view, showing that the economic expansion of southeastern Chinese rivaled the colonial ambitions of Europeans overseas.
In a story that dawns with the Industrial Revolution and culminates in the Great Depression, Melissa Macauley explains how sojourners from an ungovernable corner of China emerged among the commercial masters of the South China Sea. She focuses on Chaozhou, a region in the great maritime province of Guangdong, whose people shared a repertoire of ritual, cultural, and economic practices.
“Distant Shores” reveals how the transoceanic migration of Chaozhouese laborers and merchants across a far-flung maritime world linked the Chinese homeland to an ever-expanding frontier of settlement and economic extraction.