History Professor presents research on Britain’s trade with Asia
Professor Huw Bowen, Director of Research at Swansea University's History Department, has presented a research paper on Britain's trade with Asia at a major international conference in Venice, Italy.
This year's Harvard-Hitotsubashi-Warwick conference, held at the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, was on the theme of Economic change around the Indian Ocean in the very long run.
In his paper, entitled "Re-imagining, reconstructing, and re-estimating British trade with Asia during the very long run," Professor Bowen argued that historians and economists have very significantly underestimated the value and volume of British trade with Asia during a crucial phase in the development of the global economy.
His paper offers a statistical reconstruction of Britain's trade with Asia during a period when the British were establishing imperial and commercial supremacy in India and the wider Indian Ocean region.
The paper is based on Professor Bowen's interpretation of data collected at the India Office Records in the British Library and in India, during a three-year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Professor Bowen's work offers a fundamental revision of the conventional view of British trade with Asia.
He said: "In particular, my paper argues that the Asian share of overall British trade was much larger that has been acknowledged, and that exports were very much more important than represented in existing literature."
"The paper suggests a need to reinterpret the chronology of global integration and to place colonial South Asia much more firmly within an expanding world of British manufactured goods."
"As such, the paper addressed on-going debates about consumption in Asia and patterns of economic development in Britain during its crucial phase of industrialisation."
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