Organized Panel Session
Through the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, growing East Asian maritime trade brought about challenges for the state’s control over its coastal regions. This panel examines how official perception and policies toward maritime merchants were changed over time, and how non-state actors negotiated the boundaries between legitimate and illicit trade. The first three papers examine three cases of different coastal regions to explore how officials, literati and pirate traders interacted with structural changes, such as the emerging global silver trade and China’s dynastic transition. Jing Liu compares Ming China’s and Chosŏn Korea’s regulation of pirate activities in their northern littoral during the sixteenth century. Sunkyu Lee’s study of late Ming literati’s miscellaneous notes will investigate how increasing foreign contacts and coastal violence shaped images of pirate traders in the lower Yangzi delta. Kyungsoo Chae’s study of the lives of several generations of militarized merchants in China’s southeastern coast demonstrates changing attitudes of maritime groups toward the state power in the seventeenth century. The fourth presenter, Laurie Dickmeyer, examines the writings of American merchants in Guangzhou to illustrate the growing tension between the Qing state’s trade regulation and the global capital economy on the eve of the Opium War. These four papers together incorporate voices of different historical actors in the East Asian maritime world and discusses how smuggling and maritime violence affected local power dynamics. In addition, this panel suggests multiple ways of investigating the connections between China and the global economy.