• Mandarin
  • Norsk

Merchants and Missionaries.

Norwegian encounters with China in a transnational perspective, 1890–1937

China's recent transformation and draconic economic growth has been intimately linked with the ongoing processes of globalisation. Social scientists, politicians and business figures alike stress the newness to China's recently discovered place in the global economy. Such an understanding is at best rudimentary. Not only does it ignore an essential backdrop to present-day developments, it is also academically flawed.

The globalisation debate has so far been conducted on the basis of the hegemony of only a handful of social sciences. Only through historical knowledge is it possible to understand the contemporary processes of globalisation. Norway is, and has been, a part of such processes. Merchants and missionaries will be such a contribution. We argue that this project will enable us to make a small, but important, contribution to the international academic debate within global and transnational history.

The following two research questions are the focus of the inquiry:
  • How and why did commercial and humanitarian interactions between Norway and China transform into institutionalised networks ca. 1890–1937?
  • How did these transnational ties influence the shaping of identities and broader understanding of culture and society in Norway and China?

Norwegian merchants and missionaries in China 1890–1937 offer highly valuable insight into globalisation and Chinese-Norwegian relations. Driven by different motives, both missionaries and merchants were mobile, global in their outlook and had a cumulative effect in linking an increasingly self-conscious and nationalistic Norway with the wider world. 

The early 1890s witnessed an acceleration and intensification of Chinese-Norwegian interactions as both merchants and missionaries were eying the largest single market in the world; China. We have set 1937 as en end date to our project as the Second Sino-Japanese War then entered into a stage of Total War. Although the main emphasis will be on Norway and China, understanding the historical actors in a broader and comparative context will be an underlining objective. The Japanese, Scandinavian, German, French, American and British perspectives will be of particular importance in this respect. 

The project draws upon Chinese, English, German, Norwegian and Russian literature and sources located in various countries.