The Sinocentric trading area was the focus of global trade for at least a millennium. The most desirable commodities for consumers all came from this area—silks, spices and “china”. This stopped dramatically in 1810 when China entered a long period of trade deficits. The single cause of this was British colonial opium, produced in India and sold illegally to Chinese. This class will focus on the dramatically changing environmental and political situation in East Asia. Sudden economic insecurity led to the explosion in commercial sex work in the region and eventually brought changes in political sovereignty as China lost its emperors in 1911 and Japan gained one in 1868. These changes also brought about new forms of sovereignty like nationalism, which eventually overthrew the Euro-American semi-colonial system. Tragically, in order to do this, Japan took over England’s role as the drug dealer to China and Southeast Asia. This class will use film, literature and historical texts to document these dizzying changes in East Asia and focus in particular on the changes to sexuality, gender and race.

Gen Eds: BN, GL