MIT Visualizing Cultures
MIT Visualizing Cultures
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Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System Curriculum
by Lynn Parisi: Table of Contents

Lesson 01:
Life of a Canton Merchant

The Rise & Fall of the Canton Trade System units make the case that Westerners living and doing business in Canton during the 18th and early-19th centuries lived in an isolated world, prohibited from access to most of the city of Canton, as well as the rest of China. In this lesson, students consider the visual evidence within these units to create profiles of Western and Chinese merchants and their world.

Lesson 02:
A Tale of Two Cities: The China Trade in Canton & Hong Kong

In this lesson students examine written and visual
information about the Pearl River ports of Canton and Hong Kong, and consider the development of cross-cultural knowledge and international relations between Western nations and China in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Lesson 03:
Imagining China: Exploring 19th-Century American
Impressions of China through Canton Trade Artifacts

The primary products of the Canton trade changed over time, and that change frames the story of the rise of Western power in China and the lead-in to China’s century of humiliation (ca. 1850 to 1950). In this lesson, students consider the trade in “chinoiserie”—art and craft commodities developed to feed the growing fascination among Europeans and Americans with things Chinese.

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