History seminars at the IHR

Economic and Social History of the Early Modern World, 1500-1800

Convenors: Julian Hoppit (UCL), Alejandra Irigoin (LSE), Anne Murphy (University of Hertfordshire), David Ormrod (University of Kent) and Nuala Zahedieh (University of Edinburgh)

Venue: Room N304, 3rd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House


Time: Friday, 5.15pm

Summer Term 2016
DateSeminar details
20 May The Role of Domains in Transferring and Building Manufacturing Systems in the Tokugawa Era (1603-1868)

Masa Tanimoto (Tokyo)

In this paper, we provide an overview of state-related manufacturing in the Tokugawa period (1603–1868) in Japan, and discuss the role and limitations of the han (feudal domains) in building and promulgating manufacturing systems. Similar to European governments during the Ancien Régime, the rulers in Tokugawa-era Japan were committed to fostering industrial enterprises and projects through direct public intervention. A large proportion of the han supported manufacturing by means of financing, manufacture management, or technological knowledge transfer. In contrast, the Tokugawa shogunate, the central government of the regime, rarely engaged in manufacturing projects until the mid-19th century. This comparison gives us clues to understand the motivation behind investing in state-related manufacture in Tokugawa-era Japan as well as the continuity and discontinuity of it to the state-owned enterprises after the Meiji Restoration (1868). We discuss mostly cases of porcelain production, which exemplify Japanese domain-run manufacturing of the 17th to 19th centuries.


17 June Fashion, Textiles and the Origins of the Industrial Revolution

John Styles (Hertfordshire)

The late Eric Hobsbawm famously remarked ‘whoever says Industrial Revolution says cotton’. Traditional accounts of the British Industrial Revolution tell the story of an Asian textile – cotton – transformed into a British staple by means of cost-cutting mechanical inventions. Recently, however, histories of eighteenth-century technology have refocussed on the role of enlightenment science and ‘useful knowledge’. In the process, attention has shifted away from the mechanisation of textiles towards technical innovation in metalwares and ceramics. Yet the study of textiles in the period has not remained static. New work on European trade and consumption in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has deepened our understanding of the markets for British textiles. Many new kinds of textiles were imported, invented, or appropriated. They included not only cottons from Asia, but also Italian silks, Dutch linens and Flemish worsteds. This paper re-evaluates the key inventions in cotton spinning that traditionally define the British Industrial Revolution. It argues they represent a distinctively British response to changes in international markets for textiles, shaped by fashion, taste and state regulation.

Followed by a Summer Party with buffet and drinks, for which there will be a small charge. Please let Nuala Zahedieh or David Ormrod know if you intend to come
N.Zahedieh@ed.ac.uk; d.j.ormrod@kent.ac.uk