Teacher guide Rise and fall of the Canton trade system I: China in the world, 1700-1860s

TLF ID M006691

This is a collection of online materials about how trade between China and the West was systematically organised and carried out at three designated sites - Macau, Canton and Hong Kong. The vehicle for this collection is part one of a three-part illustrated essay about the rise and fall of the 'Canton trade system'. Connected to this part of the essay are three pop-ups; detailed information about 11 illustrations; and links to newspapers, letters and diaries of the time, a British Library exhibit, Google books, and to a video about tea production.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The illustrated essay by Peter Perdue, Professor of Chinese History at Yale University shows how a historian can use an online essay format to put forward historical and cultural explanations and support them with rich visual evidence. In this part of the essay, Perdue discusses four major topics: Chinese trade with the West; commodities traded; Chinese and Western merchants; and the narrow world of the artists who depicted the China trade for Western consumption.
  • The essay and its links provides a wealth of primary and secondary source material essential for Modern History studies of Western imperialism in China in the senior years and very useful for the year 9 historical depth study of Asia and the world.
  • This collection is useful for the historical skills aspect of the history curriculum, in particular for developing student understandings about evidence, perspectives and empathy. The visual sources are all from a Western perspective, showing the China trade as the foreign merchants wished it to be seen. No contemporary visual record of the Chinese perspective on the foreigners in the trading enclaves is in existence. The Chinese at the time were not interested in purchasing depictions of the outsiders.
  • Three sets of lesson plans can be accessed through 'Curriculum' in the drop down menu at the top under ‘The rise and fall of the Canton trade system I’. The lesson suggestions focus on the life of a Canton merchant, the China trade in Canton and Hong Kong,  and on 19th-century American impressions of China. They contain a range of useful questions and tasks as well as teachers notes. The lessons are suitable for mid to senior secondary students and are connected to all three parts of the essay.
Year level

9; 10; 11; 12

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Peter C. Perdue
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Person: Peter C. Perdue
  • Description: Author
  • Publisher
  • Name: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: Massachusetts, UNITED STATES
  • URL: http://web.mit.edu/
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Online
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2008 Visualizing Cultures. Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0.