Africa and Empire Workshop- Peking University, Part 3

Part 3 of our Peking seminar series offers a brief analysis of papers’ by perspectivesonafrica editor Aidan Stonehouse (University of Leeds), Wang Qian (Peking University), Ye Kang (Peking University), and Yuan Lihong (Peking University)

Thinking about boundaries: Conference participants on the 'Great Wall'

Aidan Stonehouse (University of Leeds)

“They have lost their customs”: identity politics and the British legacy in the Ugandan Kingdom of Buganda’

This paper addressed the developing narrative of identity politics among the Banyala and Baruli communities of Buganda Kingdom in Uganda in the twentieth century. By analysing the contemporary and historical relationship of these two ‘ethnic’ groups to Buganda it sought to underline the multi-layered processes which have culminated in occasionally violent disagreements over cultural devolution in the present day. The role of the British colonial administration in facilitating ethnic change within central Uganda was also highlighted.  

Wang Qian (Peking University)

‘The influence of the sugar-making industry in the British West Indies on the economy of modern England’

Wang Qian’s paper illustrated the importance of the West Indies sugar trade to the 18thc British economy. Full of interesting facts concerning sugar’s evolving usage from spice to sweetener this analysis underlined the relationship between sugar trading and slavery, economic prosperity and a changing British diet as sugar became available at more levels of society. The paper concluded by analysing the role of sugar wealth in laying the groundwork for Britain’s industrial revolution.

Ye Kang (Peking University)

‘British Public Opinion and Egyptian Affairs (1881-1882)’

Ye Kang’s detailed paper highlighted the role of public opinion in the response to the occupation of Egypt in 1881. The discussion followed three strands in attempting to understand why public opinion almost unanimously supported Galdstone’s decision to invade. Firstly, the manner in which the British public acquired news on Egypt was analysed. Secondly, the mediums themselves which facilitated this flow of information, including newspapers, pamphlets and periodicals were discussed. And, finally, the extent to which public opinion could be influenced and manipulated by an ‘invisible network’ of interest groups controlling sources of information was debated.

 Yuan Lihong (Peking University)

‘The Rise of Glasgow as an International Tobacco Entrepôt, 1707-1776’

Yuan Lihong’s paper offered a detailed analysis of Glasgow’s 18thc role as a hub for the international trade in tobacco. In a comprehensive discussion she underlined the reasons for Glasgow’s rise including a favourable degree of early century urban development and trade and financial facilities. The paper also made evident the delicate linkage between trading success and imperial expansion or contraction. The 1707 Anglo-Scottish parliamentary Union allowed Scots to trade and colonize the British Empire on an equal legal footing. And as British naval power grew in the 18thc and tobacco imports from the Americas’ increased Glasgow’s low operating costs induced a rapid growth in the Glasgow economy. With the beginning of the American War of Independence, however, tobacco import and export in Glasgow began to fall away.

About perspectivesonafrica

Research and news about Africa
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