HoW: History on Wednesday seminar series – 8 May
Professor Scott Relyea | Appalachian State University
“Lamas, Empresses, and Tea: Sharing imperial models in early twentieth-century Tibet”
As the twentieth century opened, the Tibetan plateau was a zone of intense imperial contact – and competition – between British India and Qing China. Indian rupees had become the primary currency of commercial exchange across the plateau, and British explorers had gathered detailed knowledge of both the presumed natural resource bounty of eastern Tibet and the lucrative border tea trade traversing it. Although Sichuan Province officials engaged with administering the Kham region of eastern Tibet shared a common perception of Khampa society with their British counterparts, they also recognised the encroachment of Indian rupees, British explorers, and ambitious railway plans as potential challenges to Qing authority, if not a prologue to territorial expansion paralleling the contemporaneous scramble for concessions in coastal China. This presentation will explore the mutual exchange of imperial models fostered by the interaction between British and Sichuanese officials, merchants, and explorers in this region, and its influence on transformative policies in Qing China’s southwest borderlands.
Dr. Scott Relyea is currently a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and senior visiting scholar in the School of History and Culture at Sichuan University in Chengdu, PRC. An Assistant professor of Asian history at Appalachian State University in Boon, N.C., USA, He is in the midst of a two-year research visit to China, funded by a Fulbright grant and a Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in China Studies. A historian of late imperial and modern China, Dr. Relyea’s research centres on state-building and nationalism in the southwest borderlands of China and the global circulation of concepts of statecraft and international law in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In addition to his current research, Dr. Relyea is working on converting his dissertation into a book, tentatively titled Gazing at the Tibetan Plateau: China’s Infrontier and the Early Twentieth Century Evolution of Sino-Tibetan Relations. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and Master’s degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies and the George Washington University.
The Department of History hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Change of venue: HoW will be held in the Professorial Boardroom
(Enter the vestibule near the Nicholson Museum
Take the stairs and turn left at the top)
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The Department of History is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI)