Fourteenth seminar meeting on “Maritime trade and its impact on China’s economic development 16th-18th century” by Gipouloux François

The Department of Mediterranean and Global Economic and Social History and the Centre of Maritime History of the IMS/FORTH will organise, during the present academic year 2022-2023, a third annual series of seminar meetings on the «Global Economic History and the History of the Seas», using the zoom platform. We intend to re-examine the spatial and temporal framework of our collective research, in a way that can provide an optimal operational context for the adoption and use of the analytical concepts and interpretative patterns inspired by recent developments in Global History and Thalassology. Our ultimate goal is to create an academic environment with a common understanding of research priorities, fields of study and focal points that will contribute to the renovation and enlargement of the scope of Greek economic history and fully integrated it into the current debates of the international community of global economic historians.
Researchers and collaborating faculty members of the IMS/FORTH took the initiative of organizing this series of seminars but our meetings are open to all, under the constraints imposed by modern telecommunication technology. We are planning to meet monthly, usually every Monday at 16:00 (Greek time). The conferences will be given in Greek or English, according to the composition of the audience. Updated information and any additional material for our projected meetings will be freely provided by the relevant web-page of the IMS/FORTH.


Οn Monday January 31, at 16:00 (Greek time) Gipouloux François (Emeritus Research Director, National Centre for Scientific Research [CNRS], France)  will give a conference on «Maritime trade and its impact on China’s economic development 16th-18th century».

You can register in advance to our seminar meetings using the following LINK

Live Streaming

From the 16th to the 18th century, the Yellow Sea and the South China Sea formed an immense maritime region that prospered outside the limits of imperial jurisdiction, and where several port cities (Nagasaki, Canton, Macao, Sakai, and later, Manila and Batavia) were to assert themselves as the real centres of accumulation of wealth and knowledge. The influence of this maritime space expanded or contracted according to the power or weakness of the merchant networks that criss-crossed it. Was it an Asian Mediterranean ? Maritime trade during the late Ming was characterised by the intermingling of tributary trade, private trade and piracy. The establishment of the ban on maritime trade gave way to a scarcity of goods entering China and to a great profitability of smuggling activities. While the ban on maritime trade never succeded in eliminating the so called Japanese pirates, it opened the possibilities of huge profits to illegal trade. Fujian coast offered many opportunities to smugglers. This presentation will trace the evolution of partnerships in maritime trade through the analysis of four lawsuits lodged against merchants who defied the ban on maritime activities to engage in trade with Japan and South East Asian countries. During the Ming and Qing periods, maritime trade was a very lucrative though high-risk and a capital-intensive business. Were the various forms taken by maritime trade ‘proto-companies’, the Chinese equivalent of the partnerships that appeared in Europe in the late medieval period? How were ownership and management, commercial function and transportation differentiated? How were contractual obligations honoured? How was risk managed?

François Gipouloux is Emeritus Research Director at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), since 2015. His research focuses on a long-term comparison of the dynamics of capitalism in Europe and Asia. He is the coordinator of the International Research Group (CNRS) "The origins of globalisation and the 'divergence' Europe Asia: Trade networks and trajectory of economic institutions, 1000-2000" and of the International Research Programme (CNRS-FMSH) "Maritime Empires, Continental Empires 1500-2000". His research interest also includes urbanisation in China, the rivalry between the major Asian metropolises (Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai) in the East Asian maritime corridor. He coordinated the research project for the European Community: "Sustainable urbanisation in China-Historical and comparative perspectives, mega-trends towards 2050" (2011-2015). Knight of the Legion of Honour, François Gipouloux has worked for nearly 20 years in Asia: Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong. He is the author of some sixty articles and chapters in scientific works as well as the following books (author and editor):
1. Elusive Capital: Merchant Networks, Economic Institutions and Business Practices in Late China, 16th-19th, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2022.
2. China’s Urban Century: Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015 (ed.).
3. Gateways to Globalisation: Asia's International Trading and Finance Hubs, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, 2011, (ed.).
4. The Asian Mediterranean: Port-cities and Trading Networks in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, 16th-21st Century, (English translation of La Méditerranée asiatique, also tranlated in Chinese and Korean), Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011.
5. La Chine du XXIe siècle : Une nouvelle superpuissance? Paris, Armand Colin, 2005 (Francis Garnier Prize 2006). Also translated into Portuguese.